Bella the bulldog panted contently as she prominently displayed her new blue, bone-shaped dog tag.

Bella’s owner, Dawn Rush, Ottawa, is co-chairing a dog park boosters group that would like to establish the Ottawa “Bark Park,” a large, fenced enclosure where dogs can run loose without leashes. The group is working with the City of Ottawa to raise funds for the park. The park’s location has not been determined.

“We have needed a dog park for a long time, and I am excited to begin the fundraising portion of the project,” Ottawa resident Kim Geist, who is co-chairing the booster group with Rush, said. “I know there are many folks who would enjoy a place to let their dogs run off-leash, safely.”

Geist, with her dogs Natalee, a black lab mix, and Emmet, a poodle, met with Rush and Wynndee Lee, the city’s director of planning and codes administration, Thursday at City Hall, 101 S. Hickory St., Ottawa, to talk about the project. Other members of the dog park boosters are Gina Hill, Judy Hasty, Jeanne Dagenette, Jim Trendel, Mi’Chielle Cooper and Lyndsey Johnson.

“City staff has been working with members of the community to develop one or two dog parks in our area, but has just begun the process,” Lee said.

The next steps include discussions about location, amenities and costs, she said.

And fundraising. The Ottawa City Commission earlier this month approved a fundraiser in which pet owners who are renewing their dogs’ licenses can receive a bone-shaped tag for an additional donation of $5 per tag. Dog owners who pay the regular license fee will receive the conventional round tag for their pets.

Additionally, engraving on either style of dog tag can be done for a $5 donation at Sutton’s Jewelry, 207 S. Main St., Ottawa. Cathy Sutton is a dog park supporter, Lee said. The engraving could include the dog’s name and owner’s address and phone number.

Donations collected for the bone-shaped dog tags and the engraving will go toward establishing the dog park, Lee said.

“I am excited to be a part of the booster group and have already purchased my 2013 license,” Rush said.

Dog licenses, which are required of all dogs in the City of Ottawa, are renewed annually at the first of the year at City Hall. Owners must bring proof of shots and indication of whether the dog is neutered or spayed in order to obtain a license. The current charge for a license for neutered/spayed dogs is $5 and $15 for those not neutered or spayed.

Earlier this year, city staff members were approached by residents interested in developing a dog park, Lee said. In the city’s 2008 Recreation and Park Master Plan, Lee said, an off-leash dog park was one of the higher priorities at No. 6 on a lengthy list.

Representatives of Prairie Paws Animal Shelter, 3173 K-68, Ottawa, are working with the dog park boosters group to establish a dog park or parks. The animal shelter’s board already had been working to raise funds for a park.

“I am glad to be working cooperatively to see that the dogs in our area have these amenities,” Mi’Chielle Cooper, Prairie Paws executive director, said in a news release. “I worked on the development of such a park in Emporia, and it was a joy to see the animals frolic.”

Doug Carder is senior writer for The Herald. Email him at