Bluffton Packet

What has four legs and likes to party? Bark in the Park to raise money for Bluffton dog park

Here's a dog day afternoon event worth attending.

It's called Bark in the Park and is a fundraiser to support the construction of a dog park in Bluffton. The event is scheduled from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Oscar J. Frazier Park's Rotary Field.

The fundraiser will include rescue groups with various breeds, a silent auction, a dog agility course, dog makeovers, pet-related vendors, food vendors, children's games, contests and prizes.

Building a dog park in Bluffton has been an idea that started to take shape in 2003 through Bluffton resident Babbie Guscio. Seven years later, Guscio said she's feeling encouraged.

"We're very close to getting our dog park due to the hard work of other wonderful people," said Guscio, president of the dog park board.

Guscio expressed her desire and the need for a park in front of Beaufort County Council in September. Members seemed in favor of the project, she said.

The site being considered is 1.75 acres at Buckwalter Regional Park between the entrance of Hampton Hall and the recreation soccer fields on Buckwalter Parkway. The town owns the land, and Beaufort County manages the 125-acre park.

"Would the county have any major objections with a dog park? I don't think we would," said Morris Campbell, county director of community services.

"The only thing we'd like is that it's compatible with what's out there. The town of Bluffton told (Guscio) she needs to make the county aware of what is being proposed."

Advocates of the dog park suffered a setback in April when a previously proposed site was protested by residents of The Farm development. Residents presented a petition with more than 150 signatures to the Bluffton Town Council, stating they were worried barking dogs would be disruptive to their community.

The proposed park would be a fenced-in, leash-free area that would have different areas designated for large and small dogs. The estimated cost for the project is $25,000, said Charlotte Wamser, a member of the dog park board.

The fundraiser is the second of its kind. About $4,000 was raised at last year's event, Wamser said. Money will be raised for the organization through vendor fees, donations and a silent auction and will go to the park's building fund.

Wamser said another reason a park is needed is because many Bluffton dog owners drive to Hilton Head Island to use the island's Best Friends Dog Park. The park is in Chaplin Park near Singleton Beach Road.

"Why drive over there when you can have one here as part of our park system? I've gone all over the country and have seen many towns with dog parks." Wamser said.