Terry Leigh of Protect Our Pets (POP) has been “Caught in the Act & of Keeping Lakewood’s Promise”.
One February evening in 2005, Terry attended a public meeting concerning dogs at Fort Steilacoom Park. The large crowd had varying ideas of how dogs should be allowed in the park and soon tempers flared. It was Terry’s suggestion that instead of complaining, everyone should redirect their energy toward working with the Parks Department and organizing space for their pets.
That positive outlook drove over 70 people (and thousands of volunteer hours) to complete 22 acres of Off Leash area for dogs at Fort Steilacoom Park. During this year long process Terry states, “There wasn’t any misbehaving by either dogs or their owners! The only obstacle encountered was the torrential rains that kept filling the 900 fence post holes being dug.” The varied individuals that came out to help became a family. Everyone got to know each other & even their pet’s names. There were even individuals without pets that offered to help. An 81-year old non-dog owner dug fence post holes and children learned the value of volunteer work. Terry plans to work with the Boy Scouts in the near future to build benches for the Off-leash area.
Over $18,000 was raised by POP through membership dues and donations. Businesses and local municipalities contributed approximately $17,000 to complete the project. The $10 annual dues and the sale of T-shirts will continue the efforts of POP. On March 25 the official dedication of the Off-leash area was held. Over 300 people and 200 dogs attended. It was a great day for man’s best friend and a wonderful area for the families of Lakewood.
Terry and his wife have lived in Lakewood for 14 years and exercise their three dogs at the park. On any given day you will find approximately 60 families/dogs using the off leash area. Terry’s efforts are an example of a providing a Safe Place in a child’s life. He receives the traveling Red Wagon, a symbol of Lakewood’s Promise of people pulling their weight to help the youth in Lakewood. Lakewood’s Promise mission is to mobilize people from every sector of life in Lakewood to build the character and competence of our youth by fulfilling these Five Promises:
* Caring Adults & Provide ongoing relationships with caring adults – parents, mentors, tutors and coaches
* Safe Places & Provide safe places with structured activities during non-school hours
* Healthy Start & Provide all the elements leading to good physical/mental health for a healthy future
* Marketable Skills & Provide marketable skills through effective education
* Opportunities to Serve & Provide youth with opportunities to serve in their community