Wheeling’s Dog Park and Pet-Friendly Stores Becoming Increasingly Popular with Locals
By SCOTT McCLOSKEY
WHEELING — With pets being a big part of our lives, more and more area residents are taking advantage of Wheeling’s recently constructed dog park and other pet-friendly locations and stores around the Ohio Valley.
The Fitzsimmons Family Dog Park, located in the Tunnel Green Recreation Complex in East Wheeling, opened this past fall anf is quickly becoming a popular spot for many area canine lovers — even in the most wintry of weather conditions.
Designated a “A PetSafe Park,” it’s not only a great place to let your dog run and burn off energy, it is also a neat place to meet and talk with other dog owners, according to several regular visitors to the park.
While one side of the fenced-in park is for dogs weighing in at more than 30 pounds, the other side is for those weighing less than 30 pounds. There are separate gated entrances for each side, with water stations in each. The park is open from dawn to dusk, 365 days per year, unless it is closed for scheduled maintenance.
Jennifer Matthews of Wellsburg said she believes the Wheeling dog park was a great addition to the Friendly City.
“It’s like a community. A lot of people that bring their dog here have got to know each other,” said Matthews, who brings her dogs Kiche and Yahci to the park on a regular basis. She said because she doesn’t have a fenced-in yard at her residence and she visits Wheeling on a regular basis, the park provides her dogs a great location to exercise. She said the park also provides an ideal area for dogs to interact with each other.
“Dogs need to have a place to run around, just like kids,” Matthews added.
Rick Frazier of Wheeling, who also routinely visits the dog park with his 10-month-old Siberian husky, Smokey, said the creation of the park was a great idea.
“We come here five to six days a week, no matter the weather,” Frazier commented.
He said the park provides an outlet for his dog and other dogs to release a lot of energy. “This is the perfect place. … A lot of people come here every day and their dogs interact, the owners interact and become friends,” he said.
There are a number of pet-friendly stores around the valley that will allow pet owners to bring their pets into the store on a daily basis, including Pet Supplies Plus and Rural King in St. Clairsville and Tractor Supply in the Elm Grove section of Wheeling.
Pet Supplies Plus Store Manager Daniel Williams said being a pet-friendly store has been very well received by the public and is quite popular among many customers. He said customers will bring their favorite pets into the store while shopping for supplies. He said it is pretty much a daily occurrence to see a customer carrying a small dog or cat, or walking their dog on a leash while shopping for supplies.
“I’ve seen all kinds of animals come in, primarily dogs … everything from a Chihuahua to a St. Bernard or even great Danes,” said Daniels. “They absolutely love the idea of being able to bring their dog into the pet store. Sometimes they’re not 100 percent sure of it, but we reassure them that you can bring them on in … we actually love it, we accept it,” Williams added.
He said from time to time you will see a customer with a more exotic pet in hand or on their shoulder, such as a Macaw parrot or even a bearded dragon lizard.