Lafourche’s Norman Swanner park has gone to the dogs

Local four-legged and furry canines have a place to run and get all of their energy out at the Norman Swanner Dog Park in Thibodaux, which celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony this week.

The dog park was proposed several years ago as part of a recreation tax that was also meant to help four other parks in Thibodaux, Parks Director Kirk Chiasson said.

The tax failed by a narrow margin at the polls, but he said with the help of community and business donations, the city was able to construct the dog park on a piece of property already owned by the city behind the Adley Landry Water Reservoir.

“A great deal of people still had interest in the dog park moving forward,” said Ryan Perque of the Thibodaux Mayor’s Office, with feedback from organizations such as Hope for Animals and My Heart’s Desire.

Although the park’s official opening ceremony was this week, dogs have been roaming around the property since the beginning of January during park hours from sunrise to sunset.

“I love the addition to Thibodaux,” said Kristen LaFleur, who was at the park on Sunday with her bassador puppy named Watson.

Before the dog park’s arrival, the only place for Watson to roam was at home. Now, he has a place to run without worry and can play with other dogs his size, she said.

“He was not able to run free or socialize with other dogs,” LaFleur said. “This is his first time and he has figured it out quickly.”

The 32,000-square-foot park is split into two fields: one for large dogs and one for small dogs. There is a 20 by 30 foot pavilion with a fence to separate the two areas of the off-leash park.

Two old fire hydrants were installed to decorate the space for canines, along with water stations donated by Raising Cane’s to help keep the pups hydrated.

The dog park is also equipped with five waste stations and 14 benches donated by the public.

Jarman Ordogne, who was at the park with his two schnauzers on Sunday, said he voted for the dog park when it was part of the recreation tax.

“I think the most important thing is the socialization the dogs have,” Ordogne said. “I was concerned at first about my dogs interacting with other dogs, but it looks like everyone is getting along fine.”

One of the main contributors to the Norman Swanner Dog Park was Neil Swanner with a $25,000 donation from the “Big Boy” fund.

The fund was started in honor of his brother and former councilman, Norman, who died several years ago from a massive heart attack.

The “Big Boy” fund aims to keep Norman’s memory and service to the city alive through donations to various projects.

Other donations to the park include $10,000 from the Peltier Foundation and $5,000 from Raising Cane’s.

There are considerations for more pet-friendly recreation in the future, but for now dogs can continue to roam in the space constructed for them by members of the community and the City of Thibodaux.

“We see it providing a lot of good times for a long time to come,” Chiasson said.

One of many dogs at the Norman Swanner Dog Park in Thibodaux drinks water from one of the watering stations donated by Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers. The site officially opened last week.