Friends of Winnebago County Dog Parks, Inc. was established at the request of Winnebago County Parks Department (WCPD) in February 2011. It was estimated in 2012 that there are over 100,000 users at Best Friends Dog Park annually. Due to the heavy usage an additional park is needed. WCPD has been trying to build another dog park in Winnebago County for the 12 years prior. Various lands were located and nothing could be closed so it was decided to ask for the help of the public. In early 2011 public meetings were held to gauge interest. Later that spring, the group FWCDP was formed and a board was elected. Then early summer FWCDP became a legal entity and 501(3)(c) paperwork was filed.
The summer of 2011, the friends group cleaned up Best Friends Dog Park, inside and out and raised up the path from the front gate to the back section as much as 18 inches in places providing an alternative to wet feet.
Gwen had owned dogs (or is it she has been owned by dogs?) since 1983. It began with her love for Goldens and now Newfoundlands. Gwen had also fostered a couple of dogs to help people out when they couldn’t care for their dogs short term. Gwen met Michelle Kennedy at the dog park and for a few years now has helped at the various fund raising events. It was about a year ago when she volunteered to be on the board as secretary.
Michelle Kennedy is the founding President of Friends of Winnebago County Dog Parks, Inc. Helping establish the group as a 501(c)3 to gain FWCDP’s not for profit status and strengthening the working relationship with Winnebago County Parks Dept. In 2014, Michelle stepped down as President to move across county to support her family in NV. Michelle works remotely with the group today from NV. Michelle shares her home with 4 rescue dogs; Oakley, Ellie Mae, Auggie and Titan.
Katie is a mother of three amazing boys ages 23, 20 and 17. She started out being afraid of dogs after being bit as a young child. As an adult, she began to dog sit for friends and family and the dogs started to grow on me. They now have a pit bull-boxer mix named Jack. Jack came to live with then when he was 6 weeks old and just celebrated his 1 year birthday! Jack is her buddy and always by her side. As she began learning more about Jack and how to care for him she also began bringing him to the dog park. It became their second home so she decided to become more involved with the park and find ways she could help. Katie is working with other amazing volunteers improving our park and organizing events.