Galesburg community hopes dog park will promote safer dog ownership

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Dogs in Galesburg are a little happier this weekend, after community volunteers presented the city's four legged friends with their very first dog park on Saturday, June 14.

The park opened a little over a year after a seven-year-old boy, Ryan Maxwell, was attacked and mauled to death by an off-leash dog, while he was playing in a family friend's backyard.

After his tragic death, Maxwell's family pushed the city for stricter leash-laws and formed an Animal Control task force to protect against vicious dogs.

Meanwhile, Project Dog Park volunteers had been working since 2012 to build a dog park so dogs could have a place to play off-leash safely.

After multiple donations and help from local contractors, volunteers for Project Dog Park held a ribbon cutting on Saturday in honor of the city's first dog park.

"It means we can be responsible pet owners, and we can provide our dogs with the type of life that they need, what their nature is. Their nature is to run and smell and pee and all those things. So we can provide them with that safely," said Melissa Powell, Vice President of Project Dog Park.

Powell said she hopes the dog park, in conjunction with the stricter leash laws and better education for dog owners, will allow the dogs to exercise and get out any aggression they may have, and therefore prevent any future dog attacks.

To use the dog park, all dogs must be registered with the city of Galesburg. Day passes for non-residents can be purchased at the City Clerk's office.