Stratford is one of the few communities in southern Connecticut without its own dog park for residents who are also dog owners to have their dogs roam leash free. The benefits of this extend beyond jjst healthier and happier dogs and dog owners who are able to have a space for their dogs to exercise and socialize, but it also alleviates dog traffic at other public parks and spaces.
The Stratford Dog Park project started in 2011 with Stratford residents Matt and Carissa DeBernardo created a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization to raise private donations and grants to help the Town find alternative resources aside from taxpayer funds to build this park. If the Town can find the land, the Stratford Dog Park can find the funds to maintain it. Over the course of 2 years, the Stratford Dog Park, through a series of fundraisers with local restaurants and a grant from the Petco Foundation, was able to raise over $17,000 in private money. A long the way, the Stratford Dog Park gained public support from the Mayor's office, State Representative Laura Hoydick, and several members of the Town Council.
An ideal dog park requires 1 to 1.5 acres with fencing and trees and shade, to maintain a natural environment. Finding an ideal location proved difficult as opposition was raised over the use of small section of Roosevelt Forrest, Mill Pond Park due to limited size and space and other areas. Eventually, through working with the Mayor's office, the Dog Park identified a piece of property near Ryder's Landing, which was owned by the state.
Representative Laura Hoydick fought tirelessly to secure a land transfer to the town, until the Federal Highway Department opposed the plan, which then prompted the Connecticut Department of Transportation to oppose the transfer.
The Stratford Dog Park is now at a crossroads and requires community support to reach out to state and federal officials to question the CT DoT's and Federal Highway Department's decisions. The Stratford Dog Park is also coming up ona deadline with its grant with Petco, which could compromise future funding if federal and state bureaucracy is not mitigated. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro. Senators Chirs Murphy and Richard Blumenthal represent Stratford in Congress, and State Senators Kevin Kelly and Andres Ayala represent Stratford in the Ct State Senate, and State Representatives Laura Hoydick, who is already a chief supporter of the dog park, Larry Miller and Terrance "Terry" Backer represent Stratford in the State House.