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This One’s For The Dogs

A smiling “Cooper” enjoys his first visit at the new dog park in Salem.

by Beverly Amsler

It was a dog-gone good day.  Canines and their human companions gave the new Salem Rotary Dog Park two paws up during the recent grand opening ceremonies.  The dog park, located beside the city Animal Shelter at 1301 Indiana Street, had a soft opening a couple of weeks ago.

Salem resident Brittany Edwards brought her Boxer mix, Cooper, for their first time at the park.

“It’s awesome.  I’m used to driving to the one in Roanoke which is 20 minutes away, so there’s finally one in Salem.”

She added, “I live in an apartment and he’s a big dog with lots of energy.  So it’ll be nice to be able to take him here and let him run free. This is a nice dog park.  I know a lot of money went into it.”

Brittany and her sister Kristi Edwards were dog sitting “Wilbur the Bulldog,” who was sporting a canine grin with his tongue hanging out.

“I think he liked it,” said Kristi.  She thought Wilbur’s favorite part of the park was the drinking fountain. “He laid by it and cooled down.”

Teri Atkins, Special Projects Manager for Salem, says residents are excited about the new dog park.  Dogs aren’t allowed in Salem’s other parks, and now they have one of their own.

Atkins said, “today we wanted to extend out to the Roanoke Valley that yes, we are open and it’s open to anybody in the Roanoke Valley free of charge to come to the dog park.”

“We have a small dog area for pets that are 40 pounds and under.  And then we have the larger dog area to kind of keep them separated.  We have some benches, some tunnels, and some fire hydrants for them.  We’re still raising funds to put some other things in the park,” she added.

The park cost $40,000 to build and Atkins says they’re looking for an additional couple of thousand dollars for maintenance items, including more mutt mitt stations.

Unlike Roanoke’s dog park which is only grass, Atkins says the Salem Rotary Dog Park boasts an area of mulch as well as grass.

[They use mulch] “because of wear and tear.  It’s very difficult to grow grass in the high traffic areas so we have the animal-safe mulch that they put down.”

Atkins hopes the proximity of the park to the animal shelter will encourage park goers to look in the shelter for their next dog.

Opening day festivities included a number of contests, including a costume contest, best dog trick, and an owner/dog look-alike-contest.

Jessica Farmer and 9-year-old Jake, the German Shepherd from Salem, won second place in the Tallest Dog contest.

“I’ve always wanted one (a dog park) actually since I was little and we never had one so I took the day off to bring my dog here.” Farmer says Jake liked lying down in the shade of the trees, one of the best parts of the new park.

City employees will maintain the park and it will be overseen by workers next door at the city Animal Shelter.

Other dog parks in the area are in Roanoke and Blacksburg – Lynchburg officials hope to raise enough money to build a park there in the coming months.

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