Pups Need your Support! Meet Friends of Barker Field

Published on November 8th, 2021 by Janna Hall

For many who live in the city of Richmond and surrounding counties, dog parks are the best way to spend time nature with their pets. Our beautiful parks are one way to get outdoors for nice, long walks, but Barker Field Dog Park is the place where owners can let their dogs out to run free with their fellow furry friends. As Richmond’s oldest dog park, Barker Field is a fenced, multi-acre dog park situated in Richmond’s Byrd Park behind the Carillon and Dogwood Dell outdoor theater. It opened its gates in October of 1998 as Richmond’s first ‘official’ off-leash dog park. The city set aside the land with the agreement that items needed to make it a dog park would be provided by its patrons. R-DOG, Richmond Dog Owners’ Group, raised money for the fence and managed Barker Field for its first years. Friends of Barker Field organized in 2005 as a partner of Enrichmond Foundation, volunteering their time and resources to keep it dog-friendly. 

With volunteer contributions and private donations, Friends of Barker Field continually improve the facilities for both dogs and their owners. Dog owners visit the park in all weather, and there are sometimes several dozen dogs playing and chasing each other around. The surrounding large trees provide a calming environment for dogs and owners alike. The wooded site also features water, shelters, seating, and sections for large and small dogs. Barker Field allows owners and dogs an opportunity to get out in nature while doing so safely and in the company of others in the dog community.

Friends of Barker Field is currently seeking donations for a significant renovation of the dog park. “The board partnered with the Department of Parks and Community Facilities to receive the estimate of $7,025 for the proposed improvements,” says Ellie Minasian, Friends of Barker Field Board President. “To raise funds, volunteers hosted a dog treat sale during three weekends this summer. They also organized the inaugural Howl-O-Ween costume contest as a large fundraising event held on October 30th. After these events, Friends of Barker Field has raised nearly $5,000.”

Unfortunately, with the current conditions at the dog park, safety concerns are on the rise, and more support is needed for renovations.

One major hazard that park goers are experiencing is the large holes and ditches that have naturally formed due to weather and erosion. While the holes can be filled with excess dirt removed from around the fencing, the ditches are much deeper and need to be filled with about 1-1.5 inches of gravel. As the cold season comes in, we anticipate these will only be exacerbated, and there is an urgent need to get gravel placed in these ditches before they become more dangerous. Another area of the park is being affected by erosion, the fencing at the bottom of the dog park. The build-up of erosion from the top of the field is causing a build-up around the fence. As the erosion builds up, the fencing is “lowered,” which becomes a danger for dogs who can jump the fence. In addition to these concerns, a large area of the dog park is completely exposed, making it dusty in the summer months and muddy in wet weather. While this is a nuisance for park-goers, under the right conditions, it makes the dog park unusable, and the investment in a large order of playground mulch will vastly improve this area of the park.

Donations will support our three main goals: to mulch the upper and middle parts of the park, fill ditches and holes, and remediate the erosion build-up around fencing.

Join us in our mission to keep Barker Field a safe and social atmosphere, “where a dog can be a dog!” To show your support and help them reach their goal; please donate here!

Photo Credit: Beloved Pet & Equine Photography