Aiken hopes new dog park makes splash

AIKEN --- Pet owners in Aiken now have a place they can take their dogs for a walk or a dip.

The city and Aiken's Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals opened a dog park at 199 Willow Run Road last weekend, said Gary Willoughby, the SPCA's executive director.

The grand opening was planned last month, but the wet weather and cold temperatures prevented a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Aiken County's first dog park.

"We've already had several people purchase their membership tags," Mr. Willoughby said. "We're installing a few more pieces, and we plan to hold a grand opening in March."

Pet owners with spayed/neutered and vaccinated dogs can pay $10 for an annual membership tag for their pets to enjoy the 2-acre park. The facility offers pet owners a walking trail, seating, separate areas for large and small dogs and one unique feature: a pool 18 inches deep.

"I've visited 25 dog parks across the country since we began developing this, and I've never seen a splash pool like this," Mr. Willoughby said. "It's just like a regular pool for dogs to play in."

Aiken and the animal advocacy group began working on the project about three years ago, said Glenn Parker, the city's director of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.

The city invested about $30,000 into the project, Mr. Parker said, and the SPCA donated $20,000 for additional development. The design and development of the land took place over the past six months.

"It's going to be something great for Aiken, because so many people love animals," Mr. Parker said. "It's something we've been looking to have for a long time."

The park is next to the city's adoption center, so Mr. Willoughby said he hopes that will encourage pet lovers to adopt.

"It's a nice place for pet owners to go, and it's a way to remind them that so many other pets need homes," he said. "We're excited to see the response."

Reach Stephanie Toone at (803) 648-1395 ext. 110, or stephanie.toone@augustachronicle.com.

AIKEN DOG PARK

HOURS OF OPERATION: Sunup to sundown, seven days a week
COST: $10 for annual membership tags for spayed/neutered and vaccinated dogs
CONTACT: Call Aiken SPCA at (803) 648-6836