Paws in the Park, an event catered to dog owners, is the result of a project put together by a group of 16 local fifth-graders and is scheduled from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 19. During the February city council meeting, Solomon Dillingham and Emma Cheatham, two of those fifth-graders, requested the city set aside the day and approve the use of Whitehouse City Park for the event.
The City of Whitehouse Parks and Recreation is partnering with the students to sponsor the event.
SPCA of East Texas will supply microchipping and will also have shirts and hats available for purchase. PetSmart will be offering nutritional advice, training demos and free nail grinding. Animal Medical Center of Tyler will also provide free nail trims.
Students from the Whitehouse veterinarian medicine program will be doing face painting, dog paw-print keepsakes and conducting animal obstacle courses.
Renowned dog trainer Bill McFarlin is also scheduled to make a special guest appearance at the event.
The project began with a group of fifth-grade students, part of a community service project team, who started meeting in January to decide on a group venture, according to Randee Cheatham, whose daughter was one of the fifth-graders who sought approval from the city council. Cheatham also organized the student meetings.
“The idea for the group is to empower kids to make a positive impact within their community,” Cheatham stated.
The fifth-graders discussed a number of ideas to discover what interests they held in common, Cheatham reported. From there they decided the service project would involve animals.
“The students discussed many different ideas, but were really passionate about opening a dog park in Whitehouse,” Cheatham recalled. “They understand that will be a big endeavor, but hope that through Paws in the Park, community members will see the benefit of having a place specifically for dog owners to take their four-legged friends.”
“The kids would love for the park to be packed with people and dogs,” said Maegan Schneider whose son is a part of the group.
The students planned the event and made contacts with businesses themselves.
“They designed scripts to use when approaching businesses to donate their services as well as asking vendors if they would like to have a vendor booth,” Cheatham said.
Though the use of the park was approved by the city council and Whitehouse Parks and Recreation are co-sponsoring the event, dogs are expected to be on leashes and current on vaccinations. Pets also need to be people and dog friendly.
“Working with this group of fifth-graders has been a wonderful experience,” Cheatham concluded. “I am impressed at their level of maturity and how well they interact with each other. The drive and enthusiasm they bring to the table is amazing. They are proof that if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish great things, no matter how young you are.”