July 22, 2019
By: Dwayne Page
Smithville has been awarded a $25,000 grant for the development of a dog park thanks to the Boyd Foundation and the efforts of Alderman Gayla Hendrix in making application for the funding.
Plans are for the dog park to be located on property owned by the City of Smithville near the animal shelter behind Tenneco Automotive.
“I am excited. This is something I have been wanting us to have for a long time. I had actually looked at a dog park in Knoxville and found out that Randy and Jenny Boyd of the Boyd Foundation provided the funding for that one through the Tennessee Dog Park Dash program so in the spring I applied for funding through this Foundation to build a dog park here in our community and we just found out Wednesday that we would be awarded a grant for $25,000” said Alderman Hendrix.
Although no local matching funds were required for the grant, Hendrix said the foundation does expect some things from the city government.
“As part of the grant requirements, the funds cannot be used to buy land. The government entity has to provide that so we (city) agreed to donate some acreage over by the animal shelter and that is where we are looking to put it. There are about 3-4 acres over there and it’s a good area because it is non residential and there are lots of shade trees there already. Hopefully by having the dog park near the shelter it will attract more animal lovers and maybe inspire them to foster or adopt some pets or become a shelter volunteer,” Alderman Hendrix continued.
The park will give local dog owners and others a place to bring their canines to run and play.
“Dogs need to play and run and a lot of folks with pets in the community have been going to Cookeville, Lebanon and other surrounding areas where they have dog parks to let them play. One of the things I included when writing the grant was that this is a tourist community with lots of people passing through because of Center Hill Lake and the Fiddlers Jamboree. We have a lot of pet owners who come to the lake and the craft fairs and events we have but we don’t really have anything for their pets. Our only big park here right now is Green Brook and pets are not allowed there so the only real opportunity dog owners have is to walk them in their neighborhoods or on sidewalks,” she said.
Hendrix added that a dog park is something the community really can take pride in.
“There are a lot of benefits to having a dog park in a community. They can help people with health problems. They encourage you to exercise by walking your dogs and petting a dog helps to lower blood pressure. Dog Parks also help promote healthier and happier pets because you can give them a large area to roam and run free and stay protected from traffic and anything that can harm them. It further helps bring communities together. Studies have shown that people in communities who have dog parks visit with one another more. It brings pet lovers together,” she said.
Now that the grant has been awarded, Alderman Hendrix said the next step is to create a design for the park.
“A basic park is divided into two sections, an area for smaller animals usually under 30 pounds and an area for larger animals so they will all be in the same enclosed area but divided by a fence. We need a water source so there can be a water fountain for the pet owners and the dogs as well as shade trees, benches, and maybe some agility equipment for the dogs to play on such as jumping over hurdles, digging in sand pits and things like that. There are lots of different ways for the park to be designed. I have already started looking at ideas on the Internet. So that is the next process, to look at designs and decide what we want to do and how we want our dog park to be laid out. Once we design it and develop our budget, we can get started and then once its built the city will have to maintain it,” said Hendrix.
Before it opens, rules will be established for the dog park. “There will be a list of rules that will be posted. The owners must stay with their dogs at all times while in the park. The dogs must be on a leash when they are brought in and when they are taken out. Once you’re in the park designated for your pet, you may unleash your dogs and play with them,” she said.
Alderman Hendrix said she is thankful to the community for the support shown toward this effort. “I want to say a big thank you to the veterinarians especially DeKalb Animal Clinic. I know the techs there were really good about submitting photos and social media supports, likes, and things like that and other people did too. The more community support you show I think the better chances you have of getting selected for a grant,” she added.
Smithville was among more than two dozen communities across Tennessee awarded grants this year totaling $900,000 for dog parks.
The Tennessee Dog Park Dash is a multi-year initiative aimed at making Tennessee the most pet-friendly state in the country.
“Jenny and I are amazed at the hard work and dedication of the people in our state to make life better for their pets and their neighbors. We are proud to support them in their work,” said Randy Boyd, founder of PetSafe and co-founder of The Boyd Foundation. “We are passionate about bringing people and pets together to create stronger communities, and we’ve found one of the best ways to do that is at a local dog park. We cannot wait to see how these communities use their grants to create local parks for Tennesseans and their pets to enjoy for decades to come.”
Two communities – Columbia and Cookeville- who went above and beyond the requirements – will each receive the $100,000 grand prize grant as two of the “Most Dog-Friendly” cities in Tennessee.
Tennessee Dog Park Dash received nearly 50 applications, from a variety of Tennessee towns, with only a few thousand residents to some of our state’s larger cities.
The full list of winning communities for the 2019 Tennessee Dog Park Dash grants includes:
EAST TENNESSEE: Baneberry, Clinton, Collegedale, Crossville (Fairfield Glade), Elizabethton, Etowah, Louisville, Madisonville, New Tazewell, Rhea County, Signal Mountain/ Walden
MIDDLE TENNESSEE: Cookeville, Columbia, Dickson, Fayetteville, La Vergne, Pulaski, Smithville, Springfield, Wartrace.