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Humane Society opens Bark Park
Outdoor play area improves quality of life for shelter dogs
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A crowd gathers inside the Bark Park at the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia during the grand opening in Gainesville, on Friday. The park will offer animals that are up for adoption a place to play and interact with potential owners. - photo by David Barnes

On drizzly Friday evening, the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia opened its new outdoor runs to make the shelter a little more welcoming for its dogs.

The Howard Oliver Armstrong Bark Park, named for the three largest donors to the effort to renovate the shelter’s dilapidated dog run, was opened with a ribbon cutting Friday night.

“This started out — we were really just hoping, praying to be able to raise $30,000 to do just new fencing,” Executive Director Julie Edwards said before the event. “We weren’t expecting to do all of these extra things that will really make the Bark Park not only have longevity but also be more rescue-friendly.”

Including cash and in-kind donations, the society raised approximately $90,000 for the new park — a 4,200-square-foot area with sculpted concrete, play equipment, shaded areas for volunteers and artificial turf designed for dogs.

“Living in the shelter is not a great life, and this will at least allow them a really awesome time in a nice area that they can (use) with the volunteers,” Edwards said.

There are 30 dogs at the shelter as of Friday. The park is only open for use by shelter staff and volunteers to walk and play with dogs being housed in the shelter.

In the future, the shelter envisions the Bark Park being used as a first-time meeting place for potential adopters and shelter dogs.

“It’s just a great addition to what we’re able to offer our rescues,” Edwards said. “We have toys, equipment, all of these things that we’ve been able to add that are just going to make the experience so much more enriching for them while they’re here.”

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