WACO, Texas: The H.O.T. Dog Park in Waco nearly closed in January but a lively Facebook group has rallied to keep it open but now it’s time for them to raise money for their cause.
The Facebook group with the same name as the park started a GoFundMe fundraiser Friday to raise money in order to maintain the park’s grounds and add amenities like dog waste dispensers.
“I was actually one of the first members that came into the dog park group itself,” dog owner and park frequenter Connie Clendenen said. “Being able to see that grow from like five or ten up to like, I think it’s five hundred twenty something people in the group now, it’s so amazing to see that that’s how many people actually use this park and come to this park.”
The group was started in January after a sign hanging on the park’s gate said it was closed at the turn of the year. The veterinarian who owned the practice adjacent to the park and the land had retired and was going to close the park unless community members volunteered to maintain it.
The park is the only off-leash dog park in the area but they have struggled to find sponsors for their fundraising efforts since they are not a non-profit organization.
“When it’s a group that’s tight-knit, you can say ‘hey friends, this is what we need to do’ but when it’s people you never know and you’re trying to reach out, you gotta have some like bond or something to be able to pull us all together,” Clendenen said. “These dogs having this option to be able to sit here and play and not worry about anything; that’s our bond that’s pulling us all together, that’s making us the community that we are.”
For these dog owners, standing idly by and letting the park wither away is not an option.
“If this park was to close and we didn’t have anything to put in its spot, there would be a lot of issues I think,” Clendenen said. “It’s part of their mental health is to be able to have this exercise, this fun, this free space for them to go and enjoy themselves.”
You can donate to the fundraiser here.