Compassionate Paws’ 10th anniversary celebration at Ridge Ferry Park Sunday confirmed a wide interest in a public dog park.
“Rome’s too big not to have one,” said John Franklin, who was enjoying the weather with his wife, Susan Franklin, their 2-year-old son George and their two schnauzers.
The 2013 special purpose, local option sales tax package contains $25,000 to build a dog park and the Floyd County Commission is expected to give the go-ahead before the end of the year.
Ridge Ferry Park was the favored spot in a survey of participants in a pop-up park at Riverside Park in September. Attendees at the Compassionate Paws events also picked the regional park on Riverside Parkway.
Maryann Pawlowski, who lives in Silver Creek, and Susan Franklin of East Rome both said it’s centrally located and near other attractions. And it’s already a destination for pet-owners.
“You always see people walking along the river trail with their pets,” John Franklin added.
The Compassionate Paws event drew dozens of animal-lovers to the park with raffles, games and snacks for people and pets. Stations also were set up by organizations ranging from the Rome/Floyd Humane Society and Floyd Felines to Kyle’s Pet Photography and Georgia Dog Gym.
Volunteers with the nonprofit — a community partner of the national organization Pet Partners — take therapy animals out into the community, to nursing homes, hospitals and schools.
Judy Colvin of Pet Partners was there to evaluate the Compassionate Paws animals and their handlers for recertification, which is done every two years. She checked out Oliver the rat and Moonpie the miniature horse in addition to a number of dogs.
“The human and the animal are evaluated as a team, and a veterinarian also has to sign off,” Colvin said. “These are very special people and pets.”
Any domestic animal that can pass the evaluation is eligible to become a pet partner. The animal has to be at least a year old and the handler at least 10. Anyone interested in volunteering can find out more online at romepaws.org.
Quinn Molyneux, 8, is too young to be a partner, but she was putting her dog Skye through its paces like a pro on Sunday at the Georgia Dog Gym obstacle course. Quinn said she took Skye to dog training classes last year and they won the blue ribbon for “Most Improved.”
Meanwhile, Laura Bledsoe was drawing attention with her show dog Romeo, a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, who was the target of frequent hugs from strangers.
“He loves children,” Bledsoe said with a laugh. “He doesn’t care about the other dogs, but I had a hard time keeping him from the playground.”
Romeo’s workout — he’ll be competing at A.H. Stephens State Park in Crawfordville next week — involves long hikes and pulling weights and draft carts. But Bledsoe said she supports the construction of a dog park at Ridge Ferry Park.
“We came out here for the socialization,” she said with a smile.