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iBerkshire reporter Brittany Polito's pup Clover, right, meets friends at Pittsfield's new dog park.
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Running with the big dogs.
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There's lots of space in the small dog enclosure.

Tails Wag for New Pittsfield Dog Park

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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The park has separate areas for large and small dogs. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city unveiled its first dog park at Burbank Park this past week after nearly two decades of planning. Officials say there has been a positive community response from both four-legged and two-legged residents.   
 
"It's so nice to see all the happy dogs just running off-leash and playing with each other, their tongues hanging out, they're smiling, and their tails are wagging," Recreation and Special Events Coordinator Becky Manship said.
 
"It's just really a positive thing for Pittsfield and beyond because we know that there are some users from outside the community, so it's not just for Pittsfield."
 
The fenced area for off-leash dogs features a grassy layout for pooches to roam, a walking path, benches, complimentary waste bags, and even a dog-sized water fountain.
 
One side is designated for small dogs under 30 pounds and the other is for large dogs over that weight limit.
 
At the Parks Commission meeting on Tuesday, Parks and Open Space Program Manager James Mcgrath said he reached out to a local tick expert and asked him to develop an integrated pest management plan for the dog park.
 
It will utilize education and source reduction by minimizing woody debris in the area that could bring small rodents inside and trimming vegetation.  Chemicals are only planned to be used on a last resort basis.
 
It will be a holistic approach to addressing ticks at the site and has been presented as a draft to the Friends of the Pittsfield Dog Park.
 
A dog park facility has been in the city's long-range plan since 2003.  The Parks Commission and an ad hoc committee endorsed a site at Springside Park for the proposal in 2006 but community pushback derailed that effort a year later.
 
In 2016, Mayor Linda Tyer established the ad hoc committee to find a new location for the dog park. Multiple locations were evaluated and, in 2017, there was a recommendation made for Burbank Park.
 
The Parks Commission then endorsed that recommendation.
 
The total project budget was around $220,600. The city received a $25,000 design grant from the Stanton Foundation, which supports canine welfare as part of its mission, and worked with Berkshire Design Group to create the blueprint for the park.
 
The foundation gave the city a nearly $162,000 construction grant that required a $17,000 match. Pittsfield also received $70,000 in capital funds, which included the $17,000 match.
 
The city has to purchase accessories for the park including the water fountains, waste bags, waste dispensers, and benches.
 
Construction was wrapped up by the beginning of June but there was a delay in acquiring the fencing because of supply chain issues.
 
The fences were ready to go in mid-August but the hydroseed that was planted for greenery had to sit for the grass to grow in.
 
On Monday, the city had an informal official opening for the park. Because of recent upward trends in COVID-19 cases, it was decided not to hold a formal ribbon-cutting and ceremony.
 
As part of the memorandum of understanding with the Stanton Foundation, a Friends of the Pittsfield Dog Park group had to be developed to take care of the park.
 
In March, they began looking for members and Manship was happy to report that they have been very helpful with the process.
 
The group is intended to be the "eyes and ears" of the park while helping out with light maintenance that, in turn, helps the Parks Department maintenance crew.
 
"We're so thankful for the friends group," she said. "There were several of them first thing right off the bat Monday morning, they're great, and they're committed to helping keep everybody safe and happy."
 
Manship said there has been a steady flow of traffic to the park in its first week.

She encourages the public to take a short survey after visiting to give the city feedback on this new facility.

In addition, the city welcomes additional Friends of the Pittsfield Dog Park volunteers.  More information can be found here.


Tags: dogs,   

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MFBF Names Sunderland Cat Barn Cat of the Year

MARLBOROUGH, Mass. — The Farm Bureau Federation named Thomas Farm & Dairy's Sophie-Jane as Barn Cat of the year.
 
“Sophie-Jane exhibited the qualities of an excellent barn cat," said MFBF Promotion and Education Chair Meg Gennings. “Not only does she keep rodents and birds out of the barn at Thomas Farm and Dairy but she also is extremely affectionate and an excellent napper. Those qualities are what make barn cats popular." 
 
Sophie-Jane was adopted through Dakin Humane Society's barn cat program, which pairs cats who are either too feisty or too shy to live in traditional homes with working barns. These cats are spayed or neutered, and the owner is required to provide them with a warm bed (in Sophie-Jane's case that meant a cat door into the warm room where Thomas Farm and Dairy raises baby goats).
 
"We are so happy that Sophie-Jane found a loving home/barn and has now earned the title of Barn Cat of the Year," said Stacey Price, Dakin Humane Society director of development and marketing.  “We are incredibly thankful to those who open up their barns to cats like Sophie-Jane. They are truly doing lifesaving work by making this choice. Cats like Sophie-Jane are used to being outside, some may not even like people and prefer the company of other cats making it difficult for animal shelters to sometimes find living quarters for them. And even though these cats are wild they deserve equal compassion, love and humane care within the environment for which they thrive. Congrats Sophie-Jane for representing all barn cats."
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