The McGolrick Park Dog Run is unveiling a new and improved look thanks to the beautification efforts of involved neighbors.
The project, dubbed ‘Restore the Run’ by project leaders Jenna Levine and Claudia Petrullo, has been underway since this past April. With the influx of dogs in the neighborhood as a result of pandemic-fueled pet adoption, Levine acknowledged the need for cleaner, safer public spaces for dogs.
“Prior to our May 1 cleanup, the dog run was basically a disaster zone. The cleanup project initially started out where myself and my partner (like many others) were lucky enough to rescue a ‘pandemic pup’ in November 2020. After frequenting the dog run 2+ times a day, our pup would come (happily) home covered in caked-on dirt and slobber,” Levine explained. “The run was filled with mud, sitting pools of rainwater with bugs, glass, rocks, and other random debris that the wind would blow in. Casual conversation would strike up or you’d hear people constantly mentioning how awful the dog run was, but yet where were we supposed to go?”
After doing some digging into the history of the dog run and its upkeep, including tracking the 2017 renovation, Levine — whose background includes working with Dirty Jobs’ Mike Rowe on a Facebook Watch series documenting selfless acts of kindness — was inspired to rise to the occasion.
“I first asked around to see if there was a group that previously maintained the dog run, as there were some tools that were abandoned at the run. The North Brooklyn Civic Crowdsource was a huge help and put me in touch with the Parks for Partnerships program to help organize our first cleanup,” Levine said. “There was so much to learn about how dog runs are maintained, and who is responsible for the upkeep of them. Turns out, more frequently than not, it’s the responsibility of the community members.”
From there, Levine drummed up interest through word of mouth and social media, which is when she was connected with Claudia Petrullo, her now-dog-run partner, who worked to acquire pet-safe gravel for the run. A GoFundMe allowed them to reach their $5,000 goal through community donations.
In July, Levine and Petrullo coordinated a community cleanup event for the purpose of spreading the new gravel. Variety Coffee Roasters, Edith’s, and The Screen Door provided refreshments.
“We wanted to help support our local businesses, especially when the pandemic hit. We are fortunate to have such caring businesses where we were able to speak with the owners directly and to form long-lasting relationships,” Levine noted.
The project remains ongoing, and next on the horizon is a fall cleanup (complete with a Halloween costume event) to prepare the run for the winter months. In the spring, they hope to solve flooding, hole-digging, and dirt issues, as well as protect the tree beds. In the long term, Levine would love to have more shaded areas and fresh-water access for the pups.
Restore the Run is still taking donations via their GoFundMe, and plan to release a t-shirt fundraiser to help replenish financial support for the sake of securing additional gravel and maintenance supplies, as well as replacing broken wooden picnic tables.
The best way to stay informed and join future beautification events is to follow the @mcgolrickdogs Instagram account, which posts the latest updates, upcoming event information, community needs, and cute dogs that frequent the park.
“We are fortunate to have such an amazing and large space so close by, and the community really wants to be involved and take care of the dog run, so Claudia and I are happy to do whatever we can to make that happen,” Levine said. “Thank you to everyone who has said hello, shown up, picked up a shovel, filled a hole, carried a pail of gravel, zip tied chicken wire, and gotten dirty all for the love of our dogs. The pandemic has been a very strange experience, but to see how our community has come together has truly been an inspiring experience that I don’t think any of us will soon forget.”