Dog parks have become increasingly popular in the last decade. With the number of pets steadily on the rise, most pet parents are looking for public dog-friendly areas where they can take their dog to go to the bathroom, exercise, and socialize with other dogs. Dog parks also benefit dog walkers as well. It gives them somewhere to take the dogs in their care for a safe and enjoyable afternoon outside. Residents of the Point Place neighborhood of Toledo, Ohio are hoping to have a dog park in their area very soon.
Detwiler Park is a beautiful public area in Park Place, but it rarely gets used. The idea to turn it into an off-leash dog playground struck Joe Beaufait, a retired neighborhood resident, as he was walking one of his dogs there late last spring. Surprisingly, it was a bout with his arthritic knee that spurred the thought. He realized how nice it would be to have an area where dog owners, like himself, could go and let their dogs run and play, while having the option to sit down and rest if they needed to.
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Beaufait proposed the idea on a Facebook page for Point Place residents and the response was unbelievable. Support began pouring in almost immediately after the post was published. That’s when he decided to contact Toledo City Council members to share his idea. He says that he was only hoping to make the council aware of what they could do with the space. He simply wanted to share the idea and give them some information on how they may be able to go about making it a reality.
Then Beaufait created a Facebook group called “Starting a Dog park in Point Place.” He had 101 members join in the first 24 hours. Now the group has more than 200 members. He’s even gained support from Toledo Unleashed, a nonprofit group that operates The Glass City Dog Park in Woodsdale Park on the city’s south side. Their dog park has been a resounding success since it opened almost a year ago. It is a membership-based dog park and currently has over 600 members. Toledo Unleashed president Tina Yoppolo says she believes having more dog parks in the city is a great idea and the organization is happy to support Beaufait’s efforts and help in any way they can.
Beaufait’s original idea was to fill in the Detwiler Pool. It closed in 2010 after plumbing fixtures were stolen by thieves. Unfortunately, authorities determined that filling in the pool would be too expensive, so Beaufait’s new plan is to use the land around the pool’s former parking lot. He is hoping to name the dog park in memory of Falko, a Toledo Police K-9. Falko was the first Toledo police dog to be killed in the line of duty. He was shot in the face on August 12, 2015 while trying to apprehend a suspect.
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Lindsay Webb, Toledo Councilman and representative of District 6 (which includes Detwiler Park), is on board with Beaufait’s idea and is working with him to formulate a solid plan. She said that the city is open to the idea as well and would be willing to assist, but would not likely be willing to take on the expense of constructing, maintaining, and operating the park.
Beaufait’s response to that? He has a meeting with an attorney later this month to talk about how to form a nonprofit organization, basically replicating Toledo Unleashed, and he’s also started a page on the online fund-raising site gofundme.com. He is certainly taking the bull by the horns and trying to help out the dog owners in his area. If only more pet parents cared as much as Mr. Beaufait, perhaps there would be a lot more dog-friendly areas open to the public.