Volunteers rally to save Trumbull Dog Park

Things were looking “ruff” for Trumbull’s Dog Park until Monday night, when the Parks and Recreation Commission granted a 90-day extension to the group that runs the park, allowing it to reorganize.

Struggling to find more volunteers and unable to keep up with maintenance, Louise Nestor, founder of the Trumbull Dog Owners Group, said the 501(c)3 was going to dissolve, which would have meant the closing of the park in July. The group was given the land at Indian Ledge Park by the town six years ago to use as a dog park and is responsible for most maintenance.

In the last few days, a number of dog park supporters have stepped forward, with help from District 1 Town Council Republican Suzanne Testani, to urge the Parks and Recreation Commission for more time.

“I think this is going to have an extremely happy ending,” Nestor said Tuesday, “and we hope to continue for many years to come.”

Last week, things weren’t looking as bright. Nestor said that only four volunteers remained in the Dog Owners Group, and most were retirees and senior citizens.

“It’s getting to be overwhelming,” Nestor said. “These seniors are putting out a tremendous amount of work and many life issues have come up for our members and we aren’t able to keep up.”

Nestor said the town would have to close the park unless new volunteers stepped up to help maintain it. The Dog Owners Group had paid for dog waste removal services through June, so the park would have closed in July.

The message that the dog park may be closing spread online and many who are regulars at the park got involved.

Suzanne Testani said she took her dog Luca to the park Sunday, where she met Raymond Bailey, a park supporter who told her it was in danger of closing. Testani is a big fan of the park, where she said children, adults and the community can gather with their pets in a beautiful setting.

“I had no idea and it sparked a conversation,” Testani said.

Testani called First Selectman Timothy Herbst’s office, which gave its support in seeking legal advice on how to keep the 501(c)3 going. Testani also attended Monday’s meeting.

“I believe in this cause enough to champion it,” she said. “I’m very impressed with how everyone has stepped up to the plate in such a short period of time.”

The Trumbull Dog Park has become a model for other communities, according to Nestor. Communities like Shelton have used the park as an example of how to start a dog park.

“When I started this dog park idea I did a 12-page research report talking about dog parks in Connecticut and nationwide and what they do for the communities they serve,” Nestor said. “People have these pets they love and adore but don’t have the time take them for walks and this is a place the dogs can wrestle and play, and new friendships are formed in the community. You have the early-morning crew, the afternoon crew and the after-work crew. Without question it’s outstanding for the animals and helps socialize them and get them the exercise they need.”

Reinvigorated by recent support, Nestor is hoping even more people step forward to donate time, whether it be for clean-ups or fund raising. Corporate sponsors are also welcome.

Nestor will be holding a meeting at the park Thursday at 6 p.m., for anyone interested in getting involved. You may find more information at TrumbullDogPark.com.