–The measure of a society can be how well its people treat its animals–
By Mary O’KEEFE
After years of getting petitions signed, attending every event and participating in numerous dog parades, the group that blazed the dog park trail in Crescenta Valley was recognized by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors as Volunteers of the Year for the fifth district.
In a ceremony on April 15, founding members of CV DOGS – Community Volunteers for Dogs Off-leash Gathering and Socializing – were surprised and honored when they were recognized for all they did to bring a dog park to CV Park. President of the organization John Klose and members Carol Fodera and Cheryl Davis received the award on behalf of CV DOGS.
For over five years, community members of the grassroots organization worked to create a place for dogs to run free and pet parents to mingle with other pet parents in the Crescenta Valley.
At first, the group looked at a location in Two Strike Park, but residents’ complaints and concerns forced the members to look at another Los Angeles County park. ≠ first they met with some residential resistance and found it difficult to contact the correct officials to get answers. Adding a bit more challenge to the effort, it would be the first dog park in a Los Angeles County park.
“It was extremely difficult,” said Cheryl Davis, a CV DOGS founder.
Then-CV Town Council members Bruce Campbell and Steve Pierce advised Davis to run for CVTC office, and Davis did. She is now serving as president of CVTC.
“That’s how I met Susie Nemer and [L.A. Supervisor] Michael Antonovich,” Davis said.
Nemer is the local representative for the supervisor. As Davis got more familiar with the inner workings of La Crescenta, an unincorporated area of L.A., she learned how much would have to be done to build a dog park.
“It takes a long time to research the [impact of the] park, like the decision of grass versus bark. And it took a long time making the rules of the park,” she said.
Receiving this award from Antonovich surprised the group, Davis said.
“We were floored. It was a beautiful luncheon at the Dorothy Chandler Music Center,” she said.
All five L.A. County supervisors were at the event, which recognized volunteers from throughout the county of Los Angeles.
Supervisor Antonovich has been very supportive of grassroots efforts in CV in part because of the volunteer efforts of members of the community. CV DOGS is an example of how that local volunteerism works to improve the area.
The dog park opened in October 2012 and has been growing in popularity ever since. The area covers 1.5 acres and is separated into two areas, one for big dogs and one for small.
“It is active all the time,” Davis said. “In December (2012), January and February [of this year], employees of the parks and recreation department would go to the dog park and count each side. In those three months, over 50,000 dogs used the park.”
Many of those dogs were repeat visitors. Davis said she has had people share stories with her about their visits to the dog park. Some people who had a dog that had passed away were inspired to adopt a dog after visiting the park.
The CV DOGS members are continuing to help L.A. County Parks and Recreation and the supervisor’s office to conduct a survey concerning the park.
Since the park in CV is a pilot program, the organization and parks and recreation have to go back to the L.A. Board of Supervisors one year after the park has opened with information on how it is progressing.
The only way to know what the community thinks is through the surveys, Davis said.
So the group created a survey. It asks several questions concerning how often the park is used and how visitors like everything, from the benches to the bark. There is also a question asking visitors how much they would pay to use the park. Davis said this question, which
raised some concerns by survey participants, is a general question for all county areas.
“Some parks [in other areas] charge for use,” Davis said.
One of the more interesting findings of the survey so far is that some who have come to the dog park do not have dogs.
“They just like to come by to watch,” Davis said.
So, despite all the red tape, blazing a new L.A. County trail and knowing more about the different types of bark than anyone should know, Davis is very happy with the result.
“We were thrilled by [this honor]. Everyone could not have been more nice,” Davis said. “It was great.”