East Hartford in final round of contest to win dog park

By Corey AmEnde - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Fri., Jul. 5, 2013
Hanz is a rescue dog that was abandoned in Waterbury and adopted by Mary Ann Guerra of East Hartford. Courtesy photos. - Contributed Photo

Dog owners in town will be excited to learn that East Hartford is one of 15 finalists from across the nation vying for funds to help build a local dog park. This is the third annual “Bark for your Park” contest offered by PetSafe and is featured on the website www.petsafe.net.

At the time this story went to press, East Hartford was at the bottom of the pack, with 8,743 votes, while the “top dog” at the time was Mountain House, Calif., with more than 62,000 votes.

Anyone can vote twice a day – once at www.petsafe.net and on PetSafe's Facebook page. Voting closes on July 26 and the winners will be announced on July 31.

The city with the most votes will receive $100,000 to build a PetSafe dog park, while three runner-ups and the city with the highest percentage of votes to its population will each receive $25,000.

The contest started on May 1 with more than 1,100 cities nationwide competing.  Mary Ann Guerra and her dog Hanz – a Bichon-poodle mix – are leading the charge for East Hartford’s chances at winning funds for a dog park.

Guerra said she first saw the advertisement for the contest on Hanz’s Facebook page and decided to enter the contest. Just in Connecticut alone, East Hartford was competing against 22 other cities.

“I was just trying it out and I was seeing if people would vote and people started voting,” said Guerra. “And they started voting a lot.”

She eventually collected enough votes to put East Hartford in the finals that started on June 5, when all total votes for the finalists were reset to zero so everyone started from a level playing field.

In addition to soliciting votes, Guerra also had to get support from the civic leaders and land verification to prove the feasibility of building a dog park in town, if East Hartford was to win.

Finalists were also asked to produce a video and post it on YouTube.com - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wq_xhwgtlU&feature=youtu.be - and for every 1,000 views, Hanz will receive another 1,000 votes.

“We would love a dog park in East Hartford because there are a lot of people in East Hartford that don’t have a big yard like Hanz and can’t run around without a leash, but also bring awareness to rescue animals,” said Guerra.

Hanz himself is a rescue dog and was adopted by Guerra on July 11, 2012. He was found in a park in Waterbury in bad shape, with a severe injury to his nose, fleas, fungus infections, burns and cuts on his paw pads.

“They thought he was dead,” said Guerra.

But Guerra nursed him to better health and the cuts on his front paw pads are almost fully healed.

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