For years, dog owners in Nitro had to venture out of the city in order to find a dog park for their furry friends to play in.
Mayor Dave Casebolt said during his last campaign one of the top five requests he received was for the city to build a dog park. And now, with the help of local businesses, Nitro has a dog park of its own.
Nitro Central Bark, on Blake Creek Road by Ridenour Lake, welcomed the public Sunday for its grand opening.
Casebolt said the city had money leftover from the Land and Water Conservation grant they received, and the remaining money, around $13,000, was approved to put toward the dog park.
He said he contacted a local kennel for help with ideas with the design to make it a friendly, unique place. Rick Nease Auto Clinic and Valley Cash Feed Company also donated in order to make the dream of a dog park in the city a reality.
“I really appreciate the people that stepped forward to help with it, especially the House of Hounds,” he said. “They pretty much advised us through the process so we really appreciate that.”
Kendra Burton, who was attending the ceremonies, is the kennel’s manager. She said she was more than happy to help Casebolt with the project. She said there was a good turnout for the event.
“It’s been pretty busy. A lot of people have come and left but we’ve had at least 25 dogs,” she said, adding the number only reflects the two-hour long event. “There’s been so many compliments about it — especially how big it is. It’s really large and flat, and it’s a good area.”
Although the park has been open for a few months, the grand opening attracted several families to the facility, where dogs of all sizes and breeds were able to play together in a safe environment.
Sherry Boggs, who lives nearby, said her family has watched the construction and were excited to attend the grand opening. They brought Casey, a schnauzer and poodle mix, on Sunday.
“We’ve been here for over an hour. It’s really nice. It’s another thing we can do as a family — walk down with our dog and have fun,” she said, adding she thinks the wooded landscape around the park makes a great background. “We’ll definitely come a lot.”
New Hope Animal Rescue, a nonprofit organization based in Hurricane, was also in attendance. Members from this foster-based group helped share information and had three dogs available on site for adoption. The dogs wore tie-dye bandannas embroidered with the words “adopt me” to distinguish them from pets in the play area.
The facility has a fence designed to help separate big and small dogs, similar to the design of the House of Hounds kennels, complete with a series of locking gates to ensure the dogs’ safety while owners enter and exit the park. Inside, dogs play on soft mulch, which helps reduce muddy areas in the play area, while owners can sit on benches and relax. Right now there is only one piece of playground equipment in the play area, a small wooden playhouse.
Burton said in the future there will be additions to the play area, which includes more pieces of playground equipment. In the meantime, she hopes to spruce up the appearance of the park a little on days when the weather cooperates.
“We’re going to paint the dog house and either order some playground equipment or build some so the dogs can actually climb on and play in where they are here,” she said. “We’d like to dress it up some, and maybe put some (non-toxic) plants out here . . . just some really cute stuff to make it a really unique dog park.”
Danielle Workman of St. Albans said she thinks there need to be more dog parks in the area.
“I work with House of Hounds and we’re just out here watching everybody enjoy their dog at the dog park,” she said. “I think we need more of these; it’s good for the community and good for the dogs.”
Elaine Thacker, also of St. Albans, was with Terri Holliday from Poca and her Jack Russell Terrier-beagle mix. She found out about the event from Facebook, and said her dog was having a good time playing in the small dog area of the park. Holliday agreed she was having a good time at the park.
“There’s a lot of fun people here and lots of cute dogs,” she said. “We like supporting the New Hope Animal Rescue and the House of Hounds.”
Central Bark is free and open to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Contact writer Shawnee Moran at 304-348-4872 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @shawneemoran22.