About 40 canines tested out Los Angeles County's first dog park this weekend in La Crescenta before its official debut on Oct. 19.
The $645,000, 1.5-acre project is located at Crescenta Valley Park, 3901 Dunsmore Ave., and was built using funds from Proposition A, passed by voters in 1992 to maintain and upgrade facilities at regional parks, beaches, museums and zoos.
The park includes two sections — one for large dogs and another for their smaller counterparts. There are drinking fountains, walkways, a 6-foot-high fence and a hose-off area, said Kaye Michelson, special assistant in the L.A. County Department of Parks and Recreation.
"So you can wash off those muddy paws before you go back to your car," she said.
A popular feature for dog owners durign the trial run on Saturday was a seating area with benches under large oak trees.
Michelson said all of the feedback they heard during the park's trial run was positive.
"This weekend, we were really looking for the paws of approval," she said. "We think we received that."
The park is the culmination of a 5 1/2 year effort by the group Community Volunteers for Dogs Off-Leash Gathering and Socializing.
The organization's treasurer, Cheryl Davis, and her Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling retriever, Sunny, were the first to enter the park on Saturday.
Davis said Sunny has changed her in life many ways, not the least of which was leading her into the world of local politics.
When the organization went to the Crescenta Valley Town Council in 2007 requesting an off-leash dog park, some of the members said it would be a good idea for someone in the group to run for a council seat.
Davis was elected later that year and has been a council member ever since, serving as president the last three years.
"I was called the dog park candidate," she said with a chuckle.
The organization was able to get the ball rolling on the park after presenting 2,500 signatures from supporters to County Supervisor Mike Antonovich.
Plans are underway for a grand opening event on Oct. 19 that will feature a "leash-cutting" ceremony, pet adoptions and low-cost vaccinations.
-- Mark Kellam, Times Community News