Potsdam pulling in votes in online dog park contest with $100,000 top prize
Saturday, May 31, 2014 - 8:55 am

POTSDAM – There is no quick way to tell how Potsdam is doing with all the other cities that are entered in PetSafe’s online 2014 Bark for Your Park contest, but as of Friday afternoon, with 752 votes, it seemed to be doing pretty well.

Potsdam’s new dog park proposal has been entered in the contest, which offers a $100,000 top prize for one community’s dog park plan.

PetSafe, a purveyor of wireless fences, training collars, bark control, dog doors and other items, is putting up $100,000 for the winner of the dog park contest, and four additional $25,000 runner-up prizes.

People may vote for Potsdam in the contest once a day each at http://www.petsafe.net/barkforyourpark/city/11944/potsdam-ny/ and at https://www.facebook.com/PetSafeBrand/app_321086731284099.

People can also donate to the Potsdam park effort at http://www.potsdamdogpark.com/

Work had already begun on the three-acre lot at 17 Madrid Ave. behind the Potsdam Humane Society building when Potsdam’s dog park organizers found out about the contest, which is accepting two votes per day from community supporters through June 7, once each day at the PetSafe web site and once on the contest Facebook page.

Among the park organizers are Deborah Massell and Jackson Francisco, Potsdam community members and dog lovers who are working on the planning, outreach, fundraising, and land preparation for the project with the Potsdam Animal Shelter.

It was Massell who nominated Potsdam in PetSafe’s 2014 Bark for Your Park contest. She said the group has been planning on opening the park in the fall, and they would love to have the prize cash to help make the park a reality.

The 15 PetSmart finalists will be announced on June 13. They will then be asked to produce a video and continue “barking for their park.” The finalist city with the most votes will receive $100,000 to build a PetSafe dog park. Three runner-ups and the city with the highest percentage of votes to its population will each receive $25,000. Winners will be announced on Aug. 7.

There is some time for voting before finalists are announced on June 7. Potsdam had 752 votes Friday afternoon. There is a list of hundreds of cities and towns that have entered, but without clicking on each one, there is no easy way to see how Potsdam is doing compared with other places, but there is hope: if a place like Atlanta, Ga. has only 14 votes and Los Angeles has 16, as they did on Friday, then Potsdam certainly stands a chance at the big prize. New York City had only one vote. Massena is also listed among the entered cities, but on Friday afternoon, it had zero votes.

From June 13 to July 31, PetSmart will post a leaderboard of the ranking contenders.

After July 31, the contest will go “dark” until the winning city gets a surprise announcement.

According to Massell, the mission of the Potsdam Community Dog Park is to provide a fun, social, and safe play environment for dogs and their people; to create a beautiful, natural environment for both new and experienced dog lovers to foster responsible pet ownership; and to increase community awareness of the shelter and the many animals in need of forever homes.

The dog park will offer an enclosed space for off-leash exercise and supervised play without fear of dogs getting lost, hit by cars or chasing bicycles. This will be a place for new and experienced dog owners to meet, socialize and foster responsible pet ownership. It could also be the site for dog-related events and activities like obedience classes, competitions and agility training.

The park’s various areas will provide a place for the Potsdam Humane Society staff to train, exercise and socialize the dogs in their care at the shelter. Having more people coming to the PHS property to enjoy the dog park may increase the number of adoptions of the animals in the shelter waiting for homes, Massell said.

Ultimately, the park plan calls for several walking trails, clean water for the dogs, pet waste cleanup stands, benches, a gazebo, and a separate fenced area for small dogs. Future considerations are an agility course and even a water feature.

Volunteers are needed to help clear trails, install fencing and equipment and assist with other tasks like planning, marketing, outreach, and fundraising.

The site, donated by the PHS, has been surveyed by Louis Maine of Potsdam, who donated his services to the project. Professional design work was donated by Jeff Hodgson of WagnerHodgson, landscape designers from Burlington.

To attend the planning meetings, participate in work parties, get more information, or volunteer services, short or long-term, call 265-3199 or email contact@PotsdamDogPark.com.