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Stables Park: Tighter leash law leads to drive for dog play area

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Ryan Everhart doesn’t have a dog in the fight over Pawleys Island’s crackdown on unleashed dogs. But the town’s decision prompted him to launch a campaign to fund a dog park that’s part of Georgetown County’s master plan for Stables Park.

“This is just so important to people,” Everhart said as he walked his French bulldog Flip on a leash between the oaks and pines on the undeveloped portion of the park.

Pawleys Island Town Council last month approved amendments to its leash law that make it clear that it applies to dogs in the surf as well as anywhere else that’s off their owner’s property. The town changed the ordinance in 2009 to remove language that allowed dogs to be under voice control at certain times. That portion of the law was inconsistent with state law, which requires that dogs be leashed when off their owner’s property.

Everhart walks Flip on the beach at Pawleys, but didn’t let him run in the surf. But Flip likes to run as far as his short legs will carry him, and he likes to socialize. “A tired dog means a happy owner,” Everhart said.

After reading about the town’s decision, he pitched the idea of a Pawleys Island Dog Park on Facebook. It picked up over 100 likes in 24 hours. He then started a page on GoFundMe.com and a page on iPetitions to garner funds and show support.

“I’m not a carpenter. I’m not a plumber. But I can do this,” Everhart said. Carpenters and plumbers have also offered their help with the dog park.

Everhart, who lives in Willbrook, works for a medical imaging company. He has also developed a sideline in barbecue spices and is about to start making a line of kombucha, a fermented tea, at the county’s Litchfield Exchange business development center.

He first took the dog park idea to Brian Tucker, the county’s economic development director, who put him in touch with Beth Goodale, the director of Parks and Recreation. She could not be reached this week, but Tucker said she has done the background work on the park, which would require special turf and drainage.

“We would love to go ahead and open a dog park there if we had the money,” Tucker said.

A dog park was part of the plan for Stables Park, which opened in 2012 on the site of the former Litchfield Plantation stables. No funds were allocated although the county considered including the dog park in its capital projects sales tax.

Everhart has set a target of $30,000 for a facility that he envisions covering 2 acres with fenced areas for large and small dogs, shelters for the owners and water features. “It could be just as nice for people,” he said.

Goodale told him that the county was pleased with the fundraising, but needs to make sure the project provides for on-going maintenance. Everhart thinks a volunteer board could continue to raise funds for the park and help with the upkeep. All the money raised will go to the dog park.

Tucker believes Everhart is the person to raise that money. “Ryan is really passionate,” Tucker said. “My definition for an entrepreneur is people who learn to make money by solving problems.”

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