Michele Adams came to Big Pine Key via Los Angeles in 2001, her Lab-mix, Bubba, in tow.  Upon her arrival, her goal was to  establish a cage-free doggie day care facility in the Lower Keys.

Along the way, however, her life took another path, and soon, Michele, with a background in the food and drink industry, found herself working at Little Palm Island, and later as a sales rep for a fine wine distributor.  However, Michele, a trained dog behaviorist, would eventually find a way to combine her love of wine, water, food, and animals in a way that would benefit her own dogs, Fathom, and Coral (Bubba passed of old age three years ago) and other canines that called Big Pine Key home.

Together with fellow dog-lovers  Amy Bressem, a Production Technician with the News Barometer, and Sandra Tuttle, a local realtor, Michele set out to develop a dog park in Big Pine Key.  “We got tired of having to travel up to Marathon’s dog park (opened in November 2009) or to the one down in Key West to let our dogs run off leash,” explains Michele, the President of the Big Pine Bark Park board. 

To that end, this board, along with a bunch of dedicated volunteers, have been busy raising funds to make the dog park a reality.  Michele and her group hope to be able to fetch the twenty thousand dollars needed to get the park, and its dogs, up and running by the end of this summer.  With fun events like a Nautical Flea Market, yard sales, and a Super Bowl Party, Michele is confident that the dogs of Big Pine will be running free on schedule!

To-date, only  $2,500 has been raised, however, an upcoming event at Boondocks promises to be fun and successful.  On April 11th, five bands will perform, and large ticket items like a weekend at the Casa Marina Resort, a car, a pair of kayaks, and a boat, will be among the big ticket  items to be auctioned off that day.   “This event should easily bring in $10,000 towards our ulitmate goal,” says Michele.

And what will $20,000.00 mean to the dogs of Big Pine Key?  According to this dog-loving fundraiser, a well-maintained, fully fenced dog run complete with signage, pavers, and its own source of water.  Michele points out that the Big Pine Bark Park aims to be a gathering place for well-behaved canine citizens that can socialize off-leash in a way that makes them, and their humans happy when all rules are followed.  In this case, the park is located on private property, and after gaining approval by Monroe County, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife, most obstacles have been overcome.  The board is working closely with the former to make sure those who enjoy the priveleges of the dog park co-exist in balance with local wildlife, including the Key deer population.

Other events planned include a Bake Sale on May 1, and a Fishing Tournament to be held in conjunction with Reef Light Tackle of Big Pine Key May 22-24th.  It’s always great to see people coming together to make their community a better place for animals, and the humans that care for them, during National Dog Week, observed the last full week in September, and the other 51 weeks of the year. 

 A yard sale to benefit the Bark Park will take place this Saturday, March 27th, from 7am to 1pm at the Watson Field in Big Pine Key.  If you wish to donate items for the yard sale or the event at Boondocks on April 11th, please contact Michele at 305-849-1270 or Amy at 3o4-0708 or reach them at BigPineBarkPark@aol.com.