MATTAPOISETT — It was about a quarter past nine on Saturday morning when Freemin Buer, 19, decided it was time to seriously promote his Dog Walkathon for the purpose of building a dog park in this “not very dog friendly” town.
So with the help of Boy Scout Paul McLaughlan, 14, of Troop 53, Bauer drove his red pickup from the Center School parking lot to Route 6 in front of the Fire Department and put on a furry dog costume, like a major league mascot, which his mother Jodi had found online.
Freemin was ready to begin some antics for passing motorists calling attention to the walkathon, which dog owners could spring for a few bucks and walk a mile in the knowledge that someday, hopefully soon, dogs in Mattapoisett will have a friendly, safe place where they can actually run off-leash. There was no ignoring the fellow in the dog suit, who was accompanied by an important prop: A red trash can with a white top designed to look like a fire hydrant, perfect for in front of the Fire Department.
This was Freemin's second walkathon and the third project he has undertaken, starting with a cleanup and fixup of the Fairhaven animal shelter. That won Freemin his Eagle Scout badge, and he’s now determined to build a dog park somewhere in town.
His quest led him to Town Meeting, which watched his PowerPoint presentation but nixed the rest of the pitch on a point of order.
Freemin’s idea had been to use a piece of town-owned land behind the Police station and next to a skate park. But that went nowhere and now Freemin says that the Board of Selectmen have another spot in mind, also town owned, but they won’t yet reveal where that might be.
Meanwhile, there are “no dogs” or “leash dogs” signs everywhere, Freemin observed. Ned’s Point Park. The beaches. Private property.
It’s like that in many places, and leaves little room for dogs to run and burn off energy. Dr. Frank Stanton, a deceased former president of CBS, left a huge estate that he wanted to be used to further the dog-friendly work he was doing later in his life.
So his Stanton Foundation finances in large part the construction of dog parks, using a set of standards and protocols to follow to insure that the grants are being properly used. The grant recipient must provide some matching funds, and Freemin puts that number at $10,000. He has managed to raise some $3,000 so far.
Sixteen dogs and their owners participated in Saturday’s four-hour event. Those who would like to make a contribution at any time can send a check to town hall with a notation that it is for the dog park, said Lois Ennis, retired town clerk and Freemin’s grandmother.
Follow Steve Urbon on Twitter @SteveUrbonSCT