Vint Hill Dog Park Holds Fundraising Social

| August 25, 2015 | 0 Comments | Community
Local dogs splash in kiddie pool during Vint Hill Dog Park's ice-cream social.

Local dogs splash in a kiddie pool during Vint Hill Dog Park’s ice-cream social.

What better place to cool down and relax during the dog days of summer than at the dog park?

Local dog owners did just that as their dogs gobbled down ice cream and jumped in the kiddie pool at Vint Hill Dog Park’s ice cream social fundraising event Aug. 14-16. Money was raised to support park maintenance and annual events.

Owned and operated by Piedmont Dogs, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, the 1.25 acre partially wooded park is located at the corner of Kennedy Drive and Aiken Drive in Warrenton near the Prince William line. There, chairs set up under the shade of trees invite dog owners to sit and stay awhile. Patron requests for a wooded shelter and a smaller fenced in area for dogs under 30-pounds contributed to the most recent park improvements. The slew of tennis balls, Frisbees, and a small-scale agility course, offers a mini-vacation for local dogs.

Sign welcomes dogs and their owners to the Vint Hill Dog Park.

Sign welcomes dogs and their owners to the Vint Hill Dog Park.

Five and a half years ago, a private owner opened Vint Hill Dog Park on land leased from the Vint Hill Economic Development Authority. The combination of diminishing finances and a misconception that the park was funded by the local government almost led to its closing in 2014.

When Ken and Ellen Ellis and Kristen Morgan took over the reins in February of 2014, things started to look up. Ellen decided to create an email distribution list of dog owners, and she hoped they would collect 300 email addresses. Now they have 980 addresses and almost 1,000 likes on their Facebook page.

“I concentrated on the cost side of the business,” owner Ken Ellis said. “The [previous owner] had contracted with a waste management company, we got rid of them and took care of the waste ourselves. Now we work with Fauquier County Parks and Rec. to get rid of the waste, which saves a lot of money.”

Operation costs total $5,000 a year for insurance, waste removal and general site maintenance. Since the park relies 100 percent on donations, Piedmont Dogs host fundraising events throughout the year for local dogs and their owners.

The first fundraising event was a barbecue last May. It was a very successful event with the help of a dozen volunteers, despite the intense prep work.

“There’s an awful lot of people who have helped out either with their time, money or effort… It’s definitely a community spirit that keeps the park going,” Ken  Ellis said.

The Ellis’ have visited many local businesses to educate them on the dog park and offer sponsorship opportunities. Business sponsors can advertise on the cork boards at the park.

wooded shelter

Dog owners relax and chat in the shade under a wood pergola while their dogs play at the Vint Hill Dog Park.

“When people realized if they didn’t help out the park would close, they started stepping up,” Ken said.

The next big event, a Halloween costume party, is scheduled the weekend before Halloween. Dogs dressed in costume can participate in the costume contest. Proceeds from hot chocolate and pumpkin pie will fund the event.

Readers who would like to be kept informed of upcoming events can join the Vint Hill Dog Park email list by contacting Ellen Ellis at piedmontdogs@gmail.com.

 

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