Alaqua Animal Refuge to host Bark Park community meeting May 6

May 1, 2011

The Bark Park is slated to reopen Apr. 13, 2011. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Share ideas, give input and volunteer at community meeting

On May 6 at 12 Noon, Alaqua Animal Refuge will be hosting a brown-bag community meeting at the Walton Area Chamber of Commerce office in Santa Rosa Beach. The meeting will be a forum to share ideas for improvement as well as the opportunity to register to volunteer in a variety of different capacities at the off-leash dog park on J.D. Miller Road.

Alaqua Animal Refuge’s officials believe the newly reopened Bark Park can become a strong amenity to the Walton County area through a planning partnership with the community.

The Freeport animal shelter and adoption center received unanimous approval by the Walton County Board of Commissions to assume the operations of the canine park on April 12.

“When the announcement was made that Alaqua Animal Refuge would assume Bark Park’s operations, the calls and e-mails of support came pouring in, said Laurie Hood, president and founder of the four-year-old organization.  “It was such a wonderful feeling to know that this new venture was so readily embraced by our community; therefore, we realized we had an opportunity to invite these people to be part of the park’s evolution. The park’s future will definitely be bolstered by a strong community partnership, which starts with this meeting.”

Bark Park Inc. was originally opened by a group of volunteers in 2006, but due to economic challenges, the park closed in January.

Alaqua Animal Refuge’s long-term plans for the park include improved landscaping, a sheltered seating area, an Airstream trailer snack stand and the installation of an agility course. The park may also serve as a location for obedience training and pet-adoption events.

For more information on the Bark Park Community Meeting, please call (850) 880-6399 or send an email to

About Alaqua Animal Refuge:  Alaqua Animal Refuge, an independent, nonprofit organization located on Florida’s Emerald Coast, advocates the general welfare and humane treatment of animals by providing shelter, prevention of pet overpopulation and adoption services. Alaqua, located on 10 acres in the town of Freeport, was formed by Walton County, Fla.-resident Laurie Hood in 2007 when she discovered that countless animals were being euthanized due to a lack of a no-kill shelter/adoption organization in the area. Since that time, Alaqua Animal Refuge has helped find homes for more than 7,000 animals. Currently, up to 100 animals are adopted per month from this unique rescue facility, which serves as a true refuge for more than 250 animals at any given time.