Councillor Nathan Dueck, Amanda MacLean of RuffMutts, and Barry Piasta. | Candace HaikoBrenda Sawatzky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published 21:07 May 18, 2022

By Brenda Sawatzky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Our region’s furry, four-legged residents will soon be enjoying a leash-free run at Niverville’s new and improved dog park thanks to community champions like local business RuffMutts, the Town of Niverville, and the provincial government.

Temporarily displaced by the construction of the Community Resource and Recreation Centre, the new off-leash dog park will be located on a larger plot of land immediately north of its previous spot next to the Niverville Curling Club.

“The land has already been graded,” says councillor Nathan Dueck. “We anticipate topsoil and hydroseeding shortly, followed by new fencing and gating. [We’ll] finish up this year with the placement of the dog obstacles and structures and the addition of trees for shelter.”

Dueck says that $60,000 will be sitting in the town coffers for the use of dog park development over the coming years. Half of that money came to the town thanks to a grant from the provincial government.

He envisions the possibility of adding a picnic shelter or water feature at the dog park down the road, but ultimately council will turn to community pet champions like Barry Piasta for advice.

Piasta is the founder of Friends of the Dog Park and has been a tireless advocate for animals for much of his adult life.

“The Niverville Dog Park will remain a dog park like no other in the province,” Piasta says. “We have already had visitors from surrounding communities and as far [away] as Thompson and Minneapolis.”

The owners of one local pet supply chain have been instrumental, too, in helping Niverville to become a pet-friendly community for residents and visitors.

Guy Britten, co-owner of RuffMutts, has found creative ways for his stores to collect donations which then get forwarded to much-needed local projects. He owns stores in Niverville, Altona, and Morden.

“We try and work with local rescues at all our locations,” Britten says. “Manitoba Great Pyrenees is one we work with often in Niverville. We also try and help with the Niverville Dog Park. During sales, we [partner with] rescues or people like Barry who work so hard at improving the dog park, and we give prizes for draws to help them raise money. We also have a loyalty point system in all our stores. People gain points on their purchases and can use it towards in-store discounts or as cash donations to the dog park or rescues.”

Of course, RuffMutts’s point donation system wouldn’t be of much use without the thoughtful giving of the stores’ clientele, whose pocketbooks open wider when it comes to giving back to beneficial causes that involve household critters.

On Tuesday, May 17, Britten presented a cheque for $1,000 to the Town of Niverville for the express purpose of improving the dog park, which is ultimately town property. An additional $110 was collected in a donation jar at RuffMutts for the benefit of the park.

“The Niverville Dog Park has been a vibrant part of our recreation and economic tourism in our community,” says Dueck. “With the additions [to the dog park] planned, we believe this will fill in a few more pieces of the puzzle that makes Niverville a place where you belong.”

This item reprinted with permission from The Niverville Citizen, Niverville, Manitoba