There are approximately 22.5 thousand dogs in Kenosha County and they have a new hero, Lisa Saliture. Lisa had been traveling to dog parks in other towns to allow her 2 dogs, Shelby and Remington the opportunity to run off leash and to socialize with other dogs. She noticed that her dogs appeared happier and more relaxed after a good hard romp in the park. But she couldn’t help but wish for a more convenient location where she and other residents of Kenosha could bring their four-legged friends. She first contacted Art Strong, the City of Kenosha Parks Director, in January 2005 to inquire about the possibility of a dog park in Kenosha. She was told that Kenosha had considered the idea but for now there was no budget for such a park. She saw the disappointment in the eyes of her foxhound, Shelby, and knew she could not sit back and not speak out for the dogs in Kenosha.
By April, Lisa had scouted out several areas that could be easily converted into a dog park and brought them to the attention of the parks department. She got no response. Later that month she learned that another dog lover had submitted a petition for a dog park in Alford Park, this proposal was shot down due to the proximity to the Lake and high traffic streets. She sat back and waited, eager to help out if this petition gained momentum. When nothing else happened, Lisa took action.
She started a petition and began her crusade in earnest. One afternoon in July, she visited Petrified Springs Park on the Northwest side of Kenosha. Pets as it is affectionately called by Kenosha residents, is a picturesque 150 acre park complete with a running brook and miles of hiking trails through the woods. The park is a frequent destination for family picnics, hiking and bike riding in the summer and cross-country skiing and sledding in the winter. She found two locations within the park that offered privacy, easy access, and natural beauty. As she looked around she knew this was it, this was the perfect location!
Not only was the park perfect, but it is not under the jurisdiction of the City of Kenosha. Pets fell under the Kenosha County Parks Department, an organization she soon found to be much more approachable and cooperative. Lisa was energized, she stepped up her petition efforts with an online petition and officially created an organization: Dog PAWS (Dog Parks Across Wisconsin Supporters). Dog PAWS will be the non-profit entity responsible for the majority of fund raising for the dog park, as well as a resource for others looking to establish a dog park in their hometown.
Her efforts have not gone unnoticed, Dog PAWS has caught the attention of many local retailers, the Kenosha News, and local radio stations. While it seems the dog park has tremendous support in the area, there are some that are in opposition. Concerns have been raised about the threat of spread of disease through the park as well as irresponsible owners bringing aggressive dogs into the park. Lisa is attempting to address these concerns through educational programs sponsored by Dog PAWS. In addition, her proposal asks that only licensed, vaccinated dogs be allowed to visit the park. To enforce this, dog owners must pay a small permit fee and provide proof of vaccination and license. In addition, the dog owner must sign a waiver accepting liability and agreeing to the dog park rules. They will then be issued a dog tag similar to a rabies tag that must be worn at by the dog at all times in the park. The Dog Park usage is mainly self-enforced by users, or park security personnel who do frequent dog tag collar checks.
While there are still logistics to be worked out, such as fencing, facilities and other issues, it appears the dog park is well on its way to becoming a reality. As early as 2006, Kenosha County may join the approximately 700 other communities that offer off-leash dog parks. With a little ambition, a vision, and a lot of hard work, Lisa proves that one person can be an element of change. Many in Kenosha are watching her efforts closely and hopefully more will follow her lead. For more information or to sign the online petition, visit the Dog PAWS website at www.kenoshadogpaws.org.