VIENNA - After several years of effort and work, the Jackson Dog Park officially opened its gates to area dog owners and their canine companions Sunday with a special grand opening celebration.
Vienna Mayor Randy Rapp conducted a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony for the park, which is located in the former ballfield next to Jackson Memorial Park's playground.
Rapp said he has been surprised at just how positive the response has been to the new dog park.
Michael Talbott, of Vienna, plays with his dog, Molly, at the Jackson Dog Park in Vienna on Sunday. Talbott likes having an open area where Molly can run and play without a leash. (Photo by Wayne Towner)
Meg Watzek, of Parkersburg, gets ready to release Misty from her leash Sunday at the Jackson Dog Park in Vienna. While the park has been open for public use since last fall, the grand opening was Sunday. (Photo by Wayne Towner)
Zola, who is owned by Corey Dibenedetto of Belpre, gets a drink of water from a doggie fountain. (Photo by Wayne Towner)
"I've been down here numerous times and there have been people down here all of the time. It's been a great addition to our park and I'm very pleased," he said.
Miranda Haught, director of Mid-Ohio Valley Paws, said a series of activities were held Sunday as part of the grand opening, including a "doggie dash," or two-mile run for dogs and their owners, pageants for children and pets, a scavenger hunt, food and other activities.
Founded in 2009, MOV Paws is a not-for-profit group which works to raise money in support of local animal causes, area humane societies and related projects, such as helping fund protective vests for police canines.
The dog park has been a project for several years by MOV Paws, local volunteers and the city of Vienna. Haught said those involved wanted to create a place for residents to bring their pets for leash-free play.
After working for the past year or more to convert the former ballfield into the dog park, the facility opened for use in September The dog park has a dog water fountain, benches, clean-up bags, trash cans and a gravel walk surrounding the park.
While the park has been open since last fall, Haught said the decision was made to hold the grand opening this spring because of the better weather.
Haught said some of Sunday's activities were serving as a fundraiser for additional improvements to the dog park. There are plans to add benches for owners and to create another fenced area nearby for smaller dogs - those 20 pounds and smaller - to have a safer or more comfortable area for play. There are also plans for a separate agility park, she said.
"It means the absolute world to me, because I love my animals and they need a place to run and socialize," Haught said of the new dog park. "Plus, it's a place for families to come, for children to come and everybody come together as a community and bring your pets with you."
Parkersburg resident and dog owner Meg Watzek is also appreciative of the new dog park in Vienna.
"I'm so excited. People have been talking about this dog park for at least two years and even before it was officially open, people were coming over," she said.
"I think it will be wonderful for the community," Watzek said, who brought her dog Misty to Sunday's grand opening celebration.
She especially likes the fact that Wood County now has two dog parks, the first at Mountwood Park and now the one in Vienna. She has used both parks.
"Not all dogs travel well, so this is going to be a great benefit for lots of dogs who couldn't use the one at Mountwood," Watzek said.
"It's a great facility, it's nice and open," said Belpre resident Corey Dibenedetto who brought his dog, Zola, to the dog park for Sunday's event.