The city’s Millbrook Exchange Dog Park has closed the gap in a national contest and is 1 percent behind the frontrunner in online votes to get a $30,000 makeover.
“We’re fighting over that 1 percent,” said Carole O’Kobrick, president of the Millbrook Dog Park Friends group.
The park, off of Spring Forest Road in North Raleigh, is one of seven dog parks across the country competing in the Beneful Dream Dog Park project. The winner will be determined by online votes – in the form of pet photos and hashtags.
The park had been running in second place, about 6 percentage points behind Indianapolis, but the the margin has narrowed in the last few weeks. On Thursday, Indianapolis had 46 percent of the vote while Raleigh had 45 percent. Dallas is a distant third at 4 percent.
To vote, pet owners must share a photo of their furry friends on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtags #Raleigh and #BenefulDogPark. Participants can vote once a day until the contest ends Nov. 1.
If Raleigh wins, the money may be used for upgrades like extra benches, shade trees and agility equipment, said Christy Cornell, a senior staff analyst for the city’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department.
O’Kobrick said volunteers s have been spreading the word about the competition by handing out information at local events, posting signs around the city and speaking with community groups.
“We’ve learned a lot, and it’s been a great connector to the people at the dog park,” she said. “It’s brought us closer together.”
O’Kobrick said some of the people hoping to vote had trouble with Beneful’s requirement to vote on social media, and the group has been making efforts to reach out to tech-savvy N.C. State University Students to vote.
There are three dog parks in Raleigh, and the city plans to open two more in the next year. When Millbrook’s park opened in 2003, it was the first in Raleigh to allow dogs to roam off-leash.
Beneful, a dog food brand owned by Nestle Purina Petcare, has hosted contests since 2010 and has completed 20 dog park projects, said James Sun, brand manager for the St. Louis-based Beneful team. This year, it plans to give away about $200,000 for projects.
The group said it has a strategy and will be out this weekend trying to get people all over Raleigh to vote.
“This is a nail biter,” O’Kobrick said. “It’s going to be tight.”
Chris Cioffi: 919-829-4802, @ReporterCioffi