A recent letter to the editor has cast a negative light on Payson’s PAWS in the Park group. We are writing to tell your readers about the PAWS organization, which was formed in 1997 by a group of citizens who felt the Town of Payson should have an off-leash dog park. Such a park is excellent for dog owners who don’t have a fenced yard, who are not capable of walking a dog, or who just enjoy playing with their pet in the company of other dog lovers.
In 1997, the PAWS group obtained town council approval, and the Parks and Recreation Department designated the site on McLane Road for the dog park. PAWS people cleaned up the land and raised all the money for the fencing. The Off-Leash Park opened in the spring of 1998 and has been well used ever since.
The Off-Leash Park is part of Payson’s Parks and Recreation system of public parks and is the responsibility of that department. The PAWS in the Park members are volunteers whose mission is to help keep the dog park clean, repair and paint furniture, keep bag containers full, rake leaves, etc.
PAWS members cannot dictate to the dog park users or mediate people/dog issues. If a visitor feels that someone is not following the posted rules and guidelines, they must call the Payson Police and/or animal control officer. The number is clearly visible on the sign.
Besides looking after the Off-Leash Park on a voluntary basis, as a non-profit organization, PAWS members raise funds to assist Rim Country pet owners in other ways. A “second-chance” fund is maintained for medical care of injured strays brought to the HSCAZ Animal Shelter. PAWS assists the shelter with low-cost spay/neuter programs. For the community, PAWS holds an annual Dog Day in the Park celebration in September and an annual Chili Supper in November.
We hope this will give your readers a better idea of what PAWS in the Park is and does.