Letting Dogs Play Carefree Requires Human Work
YOUR DOGS DESERVE A BREAK
They work hard for you, after all — guarding your house from squirrels, retrieving balls, enduring the affection of small children or just being there to cheer you up after a bad day.
For most dogs there’s no such thing as a weekend getaway to escape from it all. But Biscuit Acres in south Tulsa is the next best thing.
Located on 2.5 acres within Hunter Park near 91st Street and Sheridan Road, Biscuit Acres is the most popular place in Tulsa for dogs to shirk their responsibilities and go wild with dozens of new friends.
Divided into separate areas for small dogs and big dogs, Biscuit Acres allows dogs to go leash-free in a safe environment, along with some comforts for people as well. Earlier this month, the park celebrated its eighth anniversary.
Though dogs are carefree animals, establishing Biscuit Acres took significant human effort. In 2009, the Rotary Club of Southside Tulsa was looking for a community project to tackle when then-president John Benjamin struck up a conversation with Herb Beattie. Beattie had just helped bring the Joe Station dog park to life near downtown Tulsa, but saw a need for more dog parks in other parts of Tulsa.
“He suggested that if Rotary would take on a new project, he would help out,” Benjamin said.
Then-mayor Kathy Taylor agreed to donate the land, with the stipulation that the Rotary Club would fully fund the project. The organization raised $70,000, cleared the land, put up the fences and other accoutrements, and Biscuit Acres was born. Dog lovers in the southern part of the metro area now had a valuable amenity.
BUT THE WORK DIDN’T STOP THERE.
The Biscuit Acres Volunteer Association formed to maintain the park, overcome any issues and keep the facility attractive for years to come, Benjamin said.
Becky Clark, president and one of the original members of the Biscuit Acres Volunteer Association, said the group works every week to make sure the park stays clean and functional after visits by rambunctious guests.
Though the association cleans, weedeats, provides pooper scoopers and makes repairs when needed, Clark said the Tulsa Park and Recreation Department provides much-appreciated help by keeping the grass trimmed, supplying mulch and dirt for filling holes and donating other materials as needed.
“The key to Biscuit Acres’ success is that we have a dedicated volunteer organization, a strong relationship with the park department and continual maintenance of the park,” Clark said.
BAVA also goes beyond maintenance. Over the last eight years the group added a number of new features to Biscuit Acres, including drinking fountains with dog-level spigots, ten new trees, customized benches with the park’s logo and concrete shade areas with shade sails and an official Biscuit Acres storage shed to house all of their supplies. All those active dogs on the go use up 1500 plastic sacks per week.
The group has just finished installing the largest new shade area, measuring 35 feet square, to replace the loss of a 40-year-old tree felled by a microburst storm. They’ve even started hiring off-duty police officers during the weekends in order to ensure problems don’t spring up.
Clark said BAVA depends on donations to keep all these services going. Most of the association’s funds come from Pancakes for Pooches, held every September at the nearby Fire Station No. 32. The organization typically raises $10,000 each year.
The Biscuit Acres Volunteer association also helps out dogs who don’t yet have a home or a chance to play at a dog park.
“We work with the Humane Society with dogs that have had a hard time getting adopted, and we’re able to match them up with homes,” Clark said.
On any given weekend, Biscuit Acres will be packed with dogs sniffing, playing and chasing each other, many of which don’t get a chance to interact with other dogs in their regular homes. Though Clark is also proud of the way Biscuit Acres has brought human beings together.
“The dog park is its own community,” she said. “Friendships are developed there from all walks of life. Without the dogs, they might not have met each other.”
Though BAVA has taken over regular work on the park from the Rotary Club, she said Biscuit Acres wouldn’t exist without their work securing the land, donating and erecting the fencing, and installing the sprinkler system.
Yes, Clark is also a familiar presence at Biscuit Acres on the weekends — as are the three dogs of her own.