Posted: August 19, 2014, 10:45 a.m. EDT
By Clay Jackson
In the movie "Field of Dreams,” Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella, played by Kevin Costner, ploughed up half of his corn to build a baseball field after being urged by a specter to "build it and they will come.”
In a "Field of Dreams” moment of its own, Waverly, Iowa, will "build” its first dog park as the $100,000 winner of PetSafe’s 2014 Bark for Your Park contest.
And when Waverly’s first and only dog park is finished, dog owners and their dogs will certainly "come.”
Waverly was entered into the contest by Derrick Wygle, who serves on the town’s city council, after local and vocal dog owners communicated their desire to have a dog park of their own.
These are some of the people behind the push that lead to Waverly, Iowa, being named the $100,000 grand prize winner in the 2014 Bark for Your Park contest.
In fact, the Waverly Jaycees had been trying for years to raise enough money to build a dog park in Waverly.
"For years there’s been this idea floating around that we could someday get together to build one, and people are pretty excited that it could become a reality,” said Joshua Schneiderman, president of the Waverly Jaycees.
Waverly, with a population of more than 9,800, received the most votes—a total of 133,545 votes—out of the 15 finalist communities in PetSafe’s fourth annual Bark for Your Park contest, which launched in May.
"This was a community effort with thousands of people dedicated to voting every day for three months,” said Tab Ray, director of Waverly’s Leisure Services Department, who was heavily involved in the dog park effort.
"The core committee was enthusiastic, innovative and committed to getting the message out about voting for a dog park in Waverly,” Ray said.
Waverly’s new dog park will be open year-round, according to Ray, who noted that some of the park’s facilities will be "winterized” each year. An example is shutting down water or facilities that use water during the winter months.
In addition to Waverly’s $100,000 grand prize, four runner-up cities each won $25,000 for their respective dog park endeavors.
PetSafe will provide each of this year’s Bark for Your Park winners with the opportunity to vote on aspects of their dog parks at the end of September.
In June, PetSafe, a Knoxville, Tenn.-based manufacturer of pet behavioral, containment and lifestyle products, pared down more than 1,400 nominated cities to 15 finalists.
"Each of these communities showed us the true meaning of teamwork by rallying together in order to make their dreams of a dog park a reality in their towns,” said Randy Boyd, president and CEO of Radio Systems Corp., maker of the PetSafe brand, about the winners.
"PetSafe congratulates Waverly, Hattiesburg, Port Chester, Tehachapi and Enfield for their commitment to improving the quality of life of dogs in their communities,” Boyd said.
For more information about this year’s Bark for Your Park contest winners, visit petsafe.net/barkforyourpark.
Bark For Your Park Runner-ups
Each runner-up community won $25,000 to use to remodel an existing dog park or to build a new one.
The 2014 Bark for Your Park runner-up cities include:
• Hattiesburg, Miss., with a population of about 45,989, was the runner-up in the large city category with a total of 34,592 votes.
• Port Chester, N.Y., with a population of about 28,967, was the runner-up in the medium city category with 67,503 votes.
• Tehachapi, Calif., with a population of about 14,414, was the runner-up in the small city category with a total of 64,449 votes.
• Enfield, N.H., with a population of about 1,540, had the highest percentage of votes to its population with 16,769 votes and was named the Bark From Your Heart winner.
All of the winners in this year’s contest went to great lengths to ensure their communities stood out from the rest.
Hattiesburg went so far as to recruit National Football League great Brett Favre for a public service announcement asking people to vote for Hattiesburg in its dog park quest.
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