by Evan Sernoffsky

It was early fall 2009, and Renee Hart had just moved to Eugene, Oregon. She decided to take her 8-month-old Havenese named Lola, an adorable black and white fluff ball, to the community dog park. The events that were to follow have inspired more anguish than should be humanly allowed. “As I went to pick her up a Bullmastiff came from behind me, grabbed her by the belly, and mauled her to death,” Renee painfully recalls. “I held her as she died in my arms.”

Renee Hart does not want other small dog owners to experience the grief she has suffered, and is trying to create community support for a public dog park for small dogs only. She hopes that she can get enough support through donations and volunteering to have a park built by this summer.

Since the unfortunate events that led to Lola’s passing, Renee Hart has gained a lot of attention in the Eugene news media. During the past six months, Renee has done an interview with KVAL news, Fox, and most recently the Register-Guard. She has been able to use all the attention from the media to raise community awareness and support for her plan.

Renee realizes the financial constraints that the city of Eugene is under, and is taking a more community based approach to getting a park built. “A lot of people have stepped forth and shown so much support” she says, “it needs to be a community project. I want it for the community not just for me.”

Renee has collected more than six hundred signatures on her online petition and is planning on further expanding her work online. “We are looking for someone to help us design a web site,” she explains. On her future website, Renee plans to set up a PayPal account where donors can privately contribute to a fund that will go toward building a park for small dogs.

For the months ahead Renee has her work cut out for her. She has a new dog that she rescued from a shelter that closely resembles Lola, and hopes that he will have a park where he can socialize with other dogs soon. “They need to be playing this summer. No question about it.”

Renee Hart holds her new puppy at Amazon Park in Eugene.