TribLive: ARP Opens off-leash dog area

Aspinwall Riverfront Park opens off-leash dog area

Tawnya Panizzi
| Monday, Aug. 6, 2018, 12:48 p.m.

Dog owners rejoice — an off-leash park opened Aug. 5 at Aspinwall Riverfront Park.

The small contained area is the only one of its kind in the community to be open year-round.

Dubbed “Boo Boo and Tiger’s Playground,” the space is named for two beloved pooches that passed away in 2015.

“For Aspinwall residents like me who have a small yard and an energetic dog, this is wonderful,” park board member Rich DeFelice said.

Also the park’s treasurer, DeFelice said managing a dog park is expensive in terms of insurance and maintenance. He encouraged people to donate to the $6,000 annual cost.

The new off-leash area can accommodate 10 dogs at one time. Pets must be up to date on vaccinations and under their owners’ control.

Dogs are permitted on a leash in other areas of the park, except for the pavilion, the playground or the welcome center. That move is to safeguard the native gardens and wildlife populating the space.

The borough also operates an off-leash area at the Aspinwall Recreation Area but it only is open during youth baseball off-season.

At Aspinwall Riverfront Park, dog owners can visit anytime and lounge in two Adirondack chairs designed and built by Blawnox resident and professional carpenter Niko Gomez.

“At most dog parks, people sit on the top of picnic tables to avoid being jumped on,” said Susan Crookston, executive director of the 10-acre park that abuts the Allegheny River at 285 River Ave. “We thought this was a more fun way to accomplish the same thing.”

As money is raised, the park board hopes to add agility and other play equipment for dogs.

The area’s namesakes, Boo Boo and Tiger, were owned by Mark Minnerly and Justin Bragg, and the Crookston family, respectively.

Both were rescues adopted from Animal Friends. For several years, Boo Boo was unable to walk and used a wheeled scooter to get around.

“When Boo Boo’s mobility started to go, we got him rear wheels and he didn’t miss a beat,” Bragg said. “He loved going to parks. He had the attitude of ‘I’m still in the game of life.’”

Minnerly and Bragg donated to the park in 2015 as a way to commemorate both dogs. Following several public requests for an off-leash area, additional donations to create the space were made by The Mark Minnerly Family Trust, The Burke Family and the Fox Chapel District Association.

To contribute to the dog park visit .

Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tawnya at 412-782-2121, ext. 2, or via Twitter @tawnyatrib.