Oak Forest seeks input on pooch park plans
BY STEVE METSCH email@example.com August 24, 2012 6:56PM
Sharon Wheeler, officer manager at Oak Forest Animal Clinic, and boxer Mojo Tuesday, August 13, 2012. The clinic was a big booster of the drive to get a dog park in the city.| Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 27, 2012 10:53AM
Sharon Wheeler, manager of the Oak Forest Animal Clinic, has a few ideas about what she would like to see in a new dog park the city is planning in conjunction with the Cook County Forest Preserve District.
She and other boosters of the park can weigh in with their wishes during a community meeting set for 7 p.m. Aug. 27 at city hall, 15440 Central Ave.
“I hope there would be separate play areas for bigger and smaller dogs. You don’t want a 5-pound dog (playing) with a 180-pound dog and getting smashed,” Wheeler said. “And we should make sure there’s always cold water for them. Dogs get overheated when they play. The other thing we recommend is waste areas, making sure there are bags people can use. Most dog owners are pretty good about it.”
The dog park, made possible after Oak Forest won $25,000 by finishing second in a nationwide contest, will be located on about seven acres in Bremen Grove, a Cook County Forest Preserve District site east of Oak Park Avenue and south of 159th Street, district spokeswoman Karen Vaughan said.
The district will install new fencing, a concrete pad and a walkway, and is working with Oak Forest on other specifics and rules for the park, she said.
“We hope to have it open later this year,” Vaughan said.
She said there will be two separate fields.
“They’d be used as either large dog/small dog sections, or as a rested/open field. That decision hasn’t been made yet and will be determined operationally,” Vaughan said.
Humans won’t be forgotten, either: The district plans to install a flush toilet and drinking fountain, Vaughan said. Additional amenities will depend on Oak Forest’s fundraising efforts or future revenue generated from fees.
The Oak Forest Animal Clinic, 15701 S. Cicero Ave., was a big booster of a citywide campaign that resulted in Oak Forest winning the $25,000 in PetSafe’s “Bark for your Park” contest. Dog washes, wine tastings and spaghetti dinners raised another $11,000, Ald. Laura Clemons said.
Clemons, a dog owner, said the city is excited about winning the money.
“It’s good news; very, very good news,” she said.
Another fundraiser may be held in the fall, ideally October, Clemons said.
“We have our sights on a pub crawl with businesses that have (outdoor) patios where owners can bring their dogs,” she said. “Maybe there will be a featured drink or food item that day, or something for the dogs, too.”
She said a lack of local dog parks was what had dog lovers not only clamoring for one in Oak Forest but getting out the vote.
“People underestimate the power of a small, dedicated community,” Clemons said. “We have a lot of community spirit in Oak Forest.”
Wheeler, the animal clinic manager, said owners should follow some tips to keep all the dogs healthy.
“We’d recommend that any dogs who are going to be at the park be current on their rabies and distemper shots, along with bordetella, which prevents kennel cough,” she said. “They should also have a negative stool sample for internal parasites like hook and roundworms.”