BLUEFIELD — People with dogs now have a few choices in where to take their pets, so that they can get out and play.
Bluefield has had a dog park called the Tail Yard since 2017 which is located on Raleigh Street in the downtown West Virginia area.
However, Bluefield residents now have the option to get a membership with Wild Things Grooming and Boarding to give their pets a chance to play in their dog park where vaccines are required.
Owner Sherri Hamden said that they had some unused land and saw a need for a park that can ensure a clean and safe visit, so they opened the Bark Park.
“We just have a lot of customers that don’t really have anywhere to take their dogs that is a safe environment, that is flea treated, and has no parasites or anything of that kind,” she said.
Hamden also added “It’s really just to keep down on parasites that a lot of dog parks that are free don’t maintain.”
The memberships are $10 a day or $30 a month if you go more than three times a month, so at that point, those members can come as many times as they want throughout the month without paying every time.
“The membership fees cover us sanitizing twice a day, the water for the sprinklers we have, and things like that,” said Hamden.
However, Hamden said she understands that there are people that cannot afford to pay the fees or that just don’t want to which is why she feels that they are not in competition with the public dog park in Bluefield.
“Some people just can’t or don’t want to pay, and that’s fine, we just wanted to give the option to dog owners,” she said.
Hamden also said they have a pretty secure way of enforcing the membership access only and keeping up with amount of times members visit.
“It’s an app that they get through their phone, and they unlock the gate with their phone,” said Hamden. “It’s come and go as they please once they are a member.”
The process of getting memberships is fairly easy, and also help to ensure the dogs visiting are safe and clean for their visit.
“Everybody has to fill out a waiver, bring their current shot records, be flea treated, and we’ll maintain that throughout the year as they get updated,” said Hamden.
Hamden thinks the park will be a good place for their customers to meet each other as well, so locals have the chance to make new friends while their dogs do the same.
Tuesday, June 28 was the first official day the Bark Park was open, and Hamden said they had several fill out applications for membership and a few have already come to utilize the new park.
Residents of Princeton will also now have an opportunity to get their dog out to play with the opening of the new public dog park behind the Princeton Recreation Center.
“On Saturday, July 2, from noon to two, we’re going to have the Mutt Parade Dog Show, and it’s just activities for people to come out and see the Princeton Bark Park for its grand opening,” said Princeton City Manager Mike Web.
He also added, “I know that could be confusing with the one in Bluefield, but there is no membership needed here, it is open to the public.”
The idea for this park came about when Webb had heard from many residents on the need for one.
“I’ve heard from different community members that they have dogs and would like to get out with them, but taking them to the city park, you have to leave them on a leash,” said Webb. “This way they get a chance to play.”
The park will have several features to make sure dogs and owners have a good time while using it.
“We already have benches out there for owners to sit while dogs play, accessible water, and a fire hydrant,” Webb said. “We hope to get agility poles set up soon, along with tires rocks and other natural hills for the dogs to play on.”
The Saturday event at the Princeton Bark Park will also serve as a ‘meet the artist’ of the mural that is being painted for the park.
Artist Ron Clement was asked to paint the mural for the dog park to give it something fun and interesting for people to look at while they let their dogs play. Clement’s work is voluntary, so he is not being paid for his work but supplies were provided by the city.
“I’m an artist and this will out live me by 30 years, so I want to leave a legacy of my work,” said Clement.
Clement has also done work with the Renaissance Project and hopes to continue doing so in the future.
Webb also said he was very pleased with Clement’s work.
Since the park is at the Rec Center, Webb said they have a few rules set in place to ensure safety for everyone at the center.
“The dogs have to be on a leash while walking into the park, but they can be let off after they are inside,” he said. “We also have about 400 feet of fencing separating big dogs and little dogs and multiple entrances.”
The park will be available to the public from dawn to dusk everyday, and the city will be maintaining it.