Friends of Winnebago County Dog Parks, Inc. was established at the request of Winnebago County Parks Department (WCPD) in February 2011. It was estimated in 2012 that there are over 100,000 users at Best Friends Dog Park annually. Due to heavy usage, an additional park is needed. WCPD has been trying to build another dog park in Winnebago County for the 12 years prior. Various lands were located and nothing could be closed so it was decided to ask for the help of the public. In early 2011 public meetings were held to gauge interest. Later that spring, the group FWCDP was formed and a board was elected. Then early summer FWCDP became a legal entity and 501(3)(c) paperwork was filed.
The summer of 2011, the friends group cleaned up Best Friends Dog Park, inside and out and raised up the path from the front gate to the back section as much as 18 inches in places providing an alternative to wet feet.
Vanessa Van Den Elzen, Treasurer
Vanessa is a student at UW Oshkosh majoring in Accounting and Information systems. Graduating spring of 2020. She is engaged to be married. To quote her, “Sadly, I do not have any pets right now. College housing doesn’t allow for that”. Vanessa brings her knowledge of numbers to FWCDP.
Michelle Kennedy is the founding President of Friends of Winnebago County Dog Parks, Inc. Helping establish the group as a 501(c)3 to gain FWCDP’s not for profit status and strengthening the working relationship with Winnebago County Parks Dept. In 2014, Michelle stepped down as President to move across the county to support her family in NV. Michelle works remotely with the group today from NV. Michelle shares her home with 3 rescue dogs; Oakley, Ellie Mae, and Titan.
Katie is a mother of three amazing boys ages 23, 20 and 17. She started out being afraid of dogs after being bit as a young child. As an adult, she began to dog sit for friends and family and the dogs started to grow on me. They now have a pit bull-boxer mix named Jack. Jack came to live with than when he was 6 weeks old and just celebrated his 1 year birthday! Jack is her buddy and always by her side. As she began learning more about Jack and how to care for him she also began bringing him to the dog park. It became their second home so she decided to become more involved with the park and find ways she could help. Katie is working with other amazing volunteers improving our park and organizing events.
Committee Members include but are not limited to:
- Lauren Bond, PR
- Stephanie Rice, Social Media
- Nate Elliot, Web Design
- Many, Many, Many volunteers who help with events, and at the dog park.