FARMINGTON — An Eagle Scout project to provide space for dogs to run and play is nearing completion at the Franklin County Animal Shelter.
The space is cleared and the fence is up but some finishing touches are needed before an expected opening of the community dog park in September.
Brian Hand, a member of Troop 546 in Temple, spent the winter raising more than $4,000, planning and organizing the project to provide space for dogs to play without the confines of leashes, with separate times for shelter and community dogs.
“This is huge for the shelter dogs,” Heidi Jordan, executive director of the shelter, said. “The public may not realize that this will be the first time shelter dogs get a chance to be off a leash (outside a kennel). Sometimes they are here for up to a few months. It's such a treat for them.”
A project is the primary requirement needed to become an Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Boy Scouts. Often the projects benefit a town but in December Hand said he wanted to help an organization. His love of dogs and the needs of the shelter led him to this project, he said.
Troop members helped clear the space near the new dog kennels on the shelter property. This is the fifth Eagle Scout project the troop has worked on.
“We are so grateful to Brian and the Boy Scout troop for making the dog park happen for shelter dogs and the community,” Jordan said.
Hand plans to add benches and a dog-waste-bag station to the park. His plans changed over the months, the park is a little smaller than he envisioned, he said.
He is grateful for donations from area businesses and the help of Mark McKenna of Quality Fence Co. of Rumford, who suppled and erected the 300-foot fence around the open space.
McKenna supplied some used galvanized steel, chain-link fence and posts reducing the price which could have run up to $15,000 if new, McKenna said Wednesday while adding a second gate to the dog entrance of the park.
A busy time now for the shelter, the opening is delayed to allow time to “learn more about dog parks,” Jordan said. This is the third Eagle Scout project proposed for the shelter but the first one to actually develop.
The shelter needs to set guidelines and hours for the shelter to use the space and separate times for the community to use the space, Jordan said.
They also intend to place visual barriers near the double-gated dog entrance to help the dogs transition into the park. She also envisions some separation inside for smaller dogs.
A membership basis for community members is being considered to ensure those using the space understand what the rules are, she said.
Another double gate is expected at a separate entrance to the park off Route 143. This will be the entrance for the public as the shelter has limited parking, she said.
The park has not been named. The shelter is open to ideas and suggestions, Jordan said.
Jordan spent Wednesday traveling to Boston to pick up seven Chihuahuas that were flown in from Pasadena, Calif. There's an overflow of Chihuahuas in California and people here are always asking for them, she said.
The shelter also now houses six puppies from North Carolina and seven dogs from the community.