by Evan Sernoffsky

Coming up with a list of links to focus our “Free to Fetch” blog has proved infinitely valuable. We now have a pool to draw from when conducting our research, and we have established a precedence of transparency when going forward with our work. Visitors to our site can not only find well crafted and in depth reporting, they can also examine the original source material from whence our work came.

The theme for “Free to Fetch” is centered around community dog parks in the Eugene/Springfield area. Our blog will focus on the social aspects of dog parks as well as the controversies that come about in these canine utopias. For our blog roll we took from an array web based source material. The refined version of our list includes these sub categories: hard news web sites, reputable community websites (the City of Eugene), popular websites dedicated to dog related issues, and blogs that are have a similar focus to ours, the last of which we can use as a formatting guide to our work.

For our hard news source we used the Register-Guard. This local newspaper syndicates national news, and does reporting on local issues. We found one story about a woman whose dog was killed at a community park, and is petitioning for new parks in Eugene that specifically cater to small dogs. This story is going to provide most of the subject matter of our project. The Register-Guard also posts letters to the editor, which act as a barometer for public sentiment, and will help us in focusing the direction of our reporting.

The City of Eugene’s web site is an excellent resource for finding statistical information for parks and recreation services, and provides a substantial list of contacts for employees of the city. This will be our go to page whenever we need an interview from a professional in the field.

Other dog related websites like and blogs like “No Dog About It” will round out our research by giving us a perspective on how people around the nation view community dog parks, and help us to examine the unforeseen problems that can arise at them.

At the beginning of our research our focus was very broad. After doing all of the work in finding our initial web based source material, “Free to Fetch” was able to narrow its focus and find one gripping story to pursue. While “Lolas Story”—the Register-Guard article mentioned earlier—will provide our blog with a gripping narrative, our other sources will help to expand our story telling into something that any community member can enjoy.



Every town, city and region has parks and open spaces for outdoor enjoyment. Dog parks, walking trails, skate parks, and open spaces exemplify a few of the types of community spaces that we all have the opportunity to enjoy. Some community members cherish these spaces, while others abuse them. Federally, the U.S. Department of the Interior preserves and maintains parks and open spaces with the help of state and local governments.

With the support of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Eugene is able to provide areas for the members of the Eugene community a place to gather, play, and socialize. With Renee Grube leading the City of Eugene, Department of Library, Parks and Cultural Services, she plans to provide areas  “where individuals, families and neighborhoods can feel connected to their community.”

But in what direction are the parks of Eugene headed? The greater Eugene community is constantly growing and changing.  As neighborhoods morph, new places to connect to the others in our community are needed.  Parks must be continually updated and renovated to meet the standard of living that the residents of Eugene want and need.  The process of updating the public spaces is ongoing and never ending.

Maintaining and improving parks requires more than just government funding. Financial and physical local support is required to improve our community areas. Donations and involvement are the best ways to see improvement in parks. One of the easiest ways for a community member to get involved with parks is through the Oregon Parks and Recreation department’s “Adopt-a-Park” volunteer program.  Individuals, groups, schools and businesses are encouraged to “Adopt-a-Park” by providing clean up and maintenance of the community members’ park. In return, the adopters receive recognition in the form of signs, plaques and ribbons for their civic contribution. This program helps to alleviate the burden on city maintenance crews to continually update and improve parks.

New forms of public spaces are beginning to emerge in the Eugene/Springfield community. Some of the more popular public spaces, which have seen a proliferation in recent years, are leash free community dog parks. These parks provide an area for dog owners to bypass city leash laws (which require all dogs to be restrained by theirs owners) and are frequented by community members and their dogs of all ages, sizes and breeds. Springfield is in the process of opening its first off leash dog park and Eugene already has five public dog parks. Follow us as we start to explore the rich culture of our community dog parks.