(WASHINGTON) -- Most people probably take grass for granted, but not the employees of the Washington Animal Control and Adoption Facility - nor some of their canine residents.
"We don't really have any kind of a grassy area out there where we can walk dogs," said facility manager Beth Trousdale. "There's no place for patrons who potentially want to adopt a dog to mingle so they're able to see how the dog interacts with them."
Andrea McCann, of the Washington Times Herald reports, in addition, Trousdale said they often get puppy mill dogs that have spent their entire lives in cages and haven't been introduced to grass. She said they actually need to be socialized to grass - something that can help improve their adoption odds.
So the staff came up with the idea of creating a "Bark Park" in unused parking lot space. Trousdale estimated the area to be roughly 80 square feet.
"The back part of the parking lot is wasted space," she said.."We'll still have parking spaces.
"Two sides are already fenced in and we have extra chain link, so maybe less than two sides will need fenced."
Trousdale said employees of the neighboring Sanitation Department have offered to help rip up asphalt with their equipment, and Water Works Superintendent Charlie Kane has agreed to see what it would take to get water service to the park.
"We'd like to put sod down," Trousdale continued. "It would be better than putting grass in and having a muddy mess out there."
A water spigot would allow them to water the grass as well as the dogs and possibly bathe the dogs outdoors in nice weather. Ideally, they'd also like to have a small gazebo to provide some shade.
"When volunteers come out here to walk dogs, there really is just no place for them to walk the dogs," Trousdale pointed out. "This would give them a place to let the dogs off the leash and play ball. We might even get more volunteers."
To raise funds for the Bark Park, staffers are selling T-shirts through Feb. 15. They say "Life is Great ... Pets Make it Better " on the front and "Washington Animal Shelter" on the back. The shirts are $15 each and can be ordered by stopping by the shelter at 415 Clark Road, filling out a form with contact information and shirt size, and paying $15 in cash. Trousdale expects the shirts will be in by the end of February.
Monetary donations will be accepted, as well, for those who'd like to contribute but have no interest in a T-shirt.
Most of the project will be completed by city employees with existing materials, so Trousdale hopes the remaining materials costs will be covered by the fund raiser. Anything extra will be used for signage along the street, which currently is nonexistent, and to promote pet adoptions.
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