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There’s no denying that our pets are an important aspect of our lives.  Throughout the DFW area, there are countless pet stores and grooming centers that aim to perfect the lives of our pooches.  FIDO Oak Cliff aims to do even more for dogs throughout Oak Cliff. 

FIDO Oak Cliff (FIDO stands for Finding Inspired Dog Owners) is an organization with some big goals in mind, the main one being the development of an off-leash dog park in the Oak Cliff community.  

Originally founded by Robbie Good, a resident of Winnetka Heights, FIDO was created to make Oak Cliff more accessible to residents and their dogs in an attempt to bring the community together. 

Around the same time, Michael Reagan, a resident of the Kings Highway Conservation District gathered an informal group with the goal of creating an off-leash dog park in North Oak Cliff.  Eventually, the two groups converged to create FIDO Oak Cliff. 

According to Reagan, a dog park would be beneficial to Oak Cliff for many reasons.  “For a lot of dogs that live in single dog households, or who live with a small (or no) yard, dog parks provide their best opportunity to exercise and be socialized with other dogs,” he said.  

The benefits of a dog park aren’t solely for the pups, however.  “Perhaps of most benefit, dog parks provide people with common interests the opportunity to meet and socialize,” Reagan said, adding, “When those people all live in the same area, those relationships strengthen the fabric of that community.” 

Though there are many dog parks throughout Dallas, none are located in Oak Cliff.  According to Reagan, presently, existing dog parks in Dallas are built on lands controlled by the Dallas Park and Recreation Department.  

“That department’s requirements for new dog parks are based on what we consider a ‘Suburban Destination Model.’  The major requirement obstacle for new park construction under the Park Department’s model is that new dog parks be a minimum of five acres,” Reagan said.  He adds that the last dog park built by the city is located some 17 miles from Oak Cliff and cost approximately $750,000 to build.  

Because there is not sufficient space available in Oak Cliff neighborhoods to meet Dallas government requirements, a dog park in Oak Cliff is not an option through the Park Department.  This is where FIDO Oak Cliff proposes their plan—a plan that is actually attainable for the community. 

The group has created several “pop up” dog parks to research areas that could serve as a good location for a permanent park, and has reinforced FIDO Oak Cliff’s beliefs that a successful neighborhood dog park can be created without adhering to the Park Department’s guidelines. 

Instead of creating large, five-acre dog parks at such a high cost, FIDO Oak Cliff wants to create smaller, neighborhood dog parks.  Reagan said that, because these dog parks will primarily serve local residents, smaller, unused land can be used and will cost considerably less than those built by the Dallas Park and Recreation Department.  Also, because the group is looking to gain access to unused land for Oak Cliff’s dog park, there is a possibility that it will be available for use by FIDO Oak Cliff at no cost.  

Local government involvement is also playing a role in making FIDO Oak Cliff’s goals a reality.  “We are very fortunate to have two city council members in Oak Cliff who are very supportive of community driven, affordable projects that strengthen our neighborhoods,” Reagan said.  “Both Delia Jasso and Scott Griggs have expressed support of FIDO Oak Cliff’s mission and we’ll continue to look to them for support in this project.”

The group works consistently to secure the funds of additional infrastructure for the dog park, Reagan said.  FIDO Oak Cliff frequently partners with local businesses and events, and has been selected as the beneficiary of 2012’s Dash for the Beads Fun Run, which is scheduled for February 18, 2012.  Also, FIDO Oak Cliff offers a t-shirt line with all profits going toward the group’s mission for a dog-friendly community.

In addition to its mission to create an off-leash dog park for the community, Reagan says that FIDO Oak Cliff aims to become a central resource for dog lovers throughout the area.  “We have a website and a Facebook page where you can find a lot of information about canine friendly businesses, places to visit with your dog, and service providers,” Reagan said.

If your family ever encounters the unfortunate event of having a pet get loose, FIDO Oak Cliff can help with that, too.  “We also have a lost and found section on the site, and we’d love to have that become the go-to place in our community for reuniting and finding homes for lost and abandoned pets,” Reagan said.      

FIDO Oak Cliff is always looking for volunteers and donations, so if you’re interested in joining the cause for an Oak Cliff community dog park, visit the FIDO Oak Cliff website to see how you can help bring a dog park to your neighborhood.

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