Barking Up a Follow

How the Abington Dog Park Came To Be

Kathryn Sage
Abington resident and reporter Kathryn Sage's dog Manny enjoys his walk in the Abington Dog Park, photographed on October 9, 2019.

Drew Wilson

Kathryn Sage and Robert Tashjian

Abington Dog Park, a place where you and your pets can feel welcomed, is the newest addition to our town. Founded by Sue McHugh, the Dog Park is the best local place to take your dogs.

McHugh grew up in upstate New York. She moved to Abington with her husband in 2005. McHugh made the dog park because she has had her dog, Carly, for about nine years. She often went to Abington’s Island Grove to let Carly play. There, and on Abington Facebook groups, she heard that people were complaining that there wasn’t a dog park in Abington.

McHugh did research and found that The Stanton Foundation supported K-9s. She called out to them, and the foundation said that they would cover the rest of the bill if she could get 10% of the cost.

Lauren Sweeney, an Abington resident and dog owner, helped a lot. McHugh said she “couldn’t have done it without her. She was a really big help.” Sweeney helped with all the fundraising and publicity.

Both McHugh and Sweeney also formed a nonprofit Friends of Abington Dog Park. “I’m President of the seven member board, which includes Selectman Ken Coyle and other Abington residents. We hold monthly meetings open to the public,” McHugh said.

McHugh chose this location in Abington because the only other spots were either Union Point, which already has a dog park, or Randolph. There wasn’t anything nearby. They couldn’t open in Rockland, or Whitman.

The biggest challenge to opening a dog park was finding a location. “No one really wanted it near their house, with all the barking going on,” McHugh said. She and others worked with the town and found the location behind the senior center. The Dog Park committee worked with town officials, finding a way to share the parking lot with the senior center to make sure that parking was not a big issue.

After three years of hard work, a Dog Park finally opened in Abington on Aug. 10, 2019.

It took about three years to collect about $20,000. They collected the money by hosting lots of events. Howl-ween, for instance, they ran a dog costume contest, and a kid costume contest, sold commemorative bricks, hosted paint nights, sign making nights, and sold candy. Hundreds loved it. On the first day that the Dog Park opened, there was food, vendors, and ice cream.

McHugh said that “all the dogs were so excited to run through the gates.” Although at first there were some issues such as people not picking up waste because they weren’t used to it, the issue has since been resolved since they provided trash barrels.

The Dog Park has a Facebook page that you can join to stay connected. Check out Abington (MA) Dog Park. You can also contact them via email: [email protected] or by mail c/o Board of Selectmen’s office, 500 Gliniewicz Way, Abington, MA 02351.

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