Dog park coming to downtown Dayton

Randy Boyd is pictured above with city officials, officials from the Boyd Foundation and members of the community for the presentation of a grant check that will fund the construction of a dog park at swinging bridge park in Dayton.

Rhea County and Dayton received a $25,000 grant from the Boyd Foundation on Thursday to construct a dog park at the city’s swinging bridge park near the farmer’s market.

The new dog park will be constructed near the pavilion at the park, and it will include separate areas for large and small dogs.

“We’re happy to have this park near the swinging bridge and with shade available for visitors,” Dayton Mayor Gary Louallen said. “This is a great thing for the city and the county.”

Randy and Jenny Boyd, with the Boyd Foundation, announced in July that 30 communities across Tennessee, including Rhea County, will be awarded grants totaling $900,000 to help make Tennessee the most pet-friendly in the nation.

Rhea County was among the recipients of one of those grants.

“I want to say congratulations,” Randy Boyd said during the check presentation. We had 60 cities competing, and only 31 were chosen. You even beat out cities like Nashville.”

Boyd said the program is aimed at not only providing recreation for local pet owners, and such additions can also serve as an economic development incentive.

“Dog parks make communities more welcoming and attractive to people looking to move here,” Boyd said.

Dozens of communities worked all year long to organize residents, coordinate with local officials, mobilize on social media, and host pet-friendly events to win a $25,000 grant to build or improve an existing dog park in their community. Two communities — Columbia and Cookeville, who went above and beyond the requirements — each received the $100,000 grand prize grant as two of the “Most Dog-Friendly” cities in Tennessee.

“Jenny and I are amazed at the hard work and dedication of the people in our state to make life better for their pets and their neighbors. We are proud to support them in their work,” said Boyd. “We are passionate about bringing people and pets together to create stronger communities, and we’ve found one of the best ways to do that is at a local dog park. We cannot wait to see how these communities use their grants to create local parks for Tennesseans and their pets to enjoy for decades to come.”

The Tennessee Dog Park Dash is a multi-year initiative aimed at making Tennessee the most pet-friendly state in the country by awarding deserving communities $3 million in total grants over three years to build and enhance dog parks.

In its inaugural year in 2018, 37 communities were awarded a total of $1 million in grants — including grand prize winner Jackson, Tenn. The 2020 Tennessee Dog Park Dash application period is expected to begin in early-spring next year when the Boyd Foundation will award another $1 million in grants. Interested communities are encouraged to visit dogparkdash.com to learn more.