Paws Park at UPAWS is open

Two dogs play in the completely fenced in Paws Park, which has seperate areas for large and small dogs to roam free. (Journal photo by Amy Grigas)

By AMY GRIGAS

Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE — Community support is strong for a new year-round dog park at Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter’s new facility off M-553, officials say.

UPAWS officially opened Paws Park to the public on July 17 at the new shelter, which is located at 815 M-553 South in Gwinn.

Summer hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and winter hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“The response from the community has been pretty phenomenal,” said Amber Talo, UPAWS board treasurer and chairwoman of the Paws Park committee. “We have had an outpouring of support for this project, and the look on the dogs’ faces — and their human partners’ faces — says it all! Pure joy! We have fit a need in our community, and the response has been pretty incredible.”

The new park is completely fenced in with 8-foot-high fences. The maximum number of dogs per adult is two and they must remain in the same area. There are two entrances that are 15 feet apart from each other, with one fenced-in area for small dogs below 25 pounds and one for large dogs over 25 pounds. Paws Park also provides waste bag dispensers, trash receptacles and water spigots throughout the park.

No food, drinks, dog treats, toys or smoking is allowed.

“Not all dogs interact with other dogs and toy sharing well,” Talo said. “In the future, we absolutely will determine peak hours/days of use to establish designated time-frames where dogs that do love toy playtime and share well with others can enjoy toy time in the park.”

A permit is required in order to use Paws Park.

“Unlike many general public parks, we do not receive any governmental funding,” Talo said. “We rely solely on our friends and neighbors to make our efforts possible.

“Although there have been some community members skeptical on having to buy a permit and/or provide vaccination records to utilize the dog park, the fee scale was based upon years of research, including community forums and community surveys giving feedback that most responsible pet owners had hoped we would charge a fee to create accountability in responsible pet ownership, as well as generate much needed funds for the homeless animals in our care,” Talo said.

Registration packets can be found at www.upaws.org and must be turned in at the UPAWS facility during regular business hours. You must provide proof of current vaccinations. Once registered, owners receive a key fob that allows access into the park.

You can purchase an annual permit for $35 per dog or $50 for a family/household, which allows for a maximum number of four dogs. Seasonal permits are available for $20 per dog or $35 for a family. Seasonal permits are available November-April inclusive.

“A one-day pass is something we will consider in the future, but right now we are focusing on annual and seasonal memberships only,” Talo said. “In the future, we will be able to determine the peak hours/days of use as well as the number of members using the park and potentially offer one-day passes for those visiting the area.”

Talo would like to remind the community “that these memberships serve a purpose of raising critically needed funds in order for us to care for homeless animals in our community as well as to establish a safe, well-maintained park.”

The Paws Park committee is working on scheduling another community forum to go over questions they have received, as well as the rules, proper etiquette and other recommendations with the public. The date is still being determined, but officials expect to also live-stream the event.

“Stay tuned, and we appreciate patience as we establish a safe and well-maintained park for all,” Talo said.

Amy Grigas can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243. Her email address is agrigas@miningjournal.net.

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