Spock Memorial Dog Park was officially opened August 9th, 2019. The park was named after Scioto County Sheriff’s first K-9 dog Spock who was killed in the line of duty while pursuing a suspect with his handler, Alan Lewis. A memorial plaque at the park states, “On an early Tuesday morning, The Scioto County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Spock was shot and killed in the line of duty while in pursuit of an armed robber. End of Watch. February 15, 1994. May we honor Spock and all faithful K-9’s for their selfless service and sacrifice”.
In 2017, Shawnee State Sociology Professor Sean Dunne ran to represent the First Ward on Portsmouth City Council, and one part of his platform called for the development of the first dog park in Portsmouth. Others had previously advocated for creating a dog park in Portsmouth, including local businessman Ben Davis, and Community Development Director Tracy Schearer. Based upon those earlier attempts, it was clear that there was strong interest in having a dog park in the city. Working with students at Shawnee State University, Dunne circulated a petition amongst residents in the First Ward during his campaign asking the city to locate a dog park at an empty lot on Second Street adjacent to the city municipal building located on 728 Second Street.
The proposed site had long been associated with public education, having first served as the location of the Second Street Elementary School and then as Griffin Hall, the home of the Ohio University – Portsmouth Branch, which in time would become Shawnee State University. The successful petition campaign gathered signatures of many residents and helped demonstrate the demand for a dog park.
Following his election to council in November 2017, Portsmouth City Council was able to quickly move forward with plans for the park in 2018. This was made possible by the work of then County Engineer, and now City Engineer, Nathan Prosch, who provided a survey of the lot, as well as Tracy Shearer and Ben Davis, who created the design for the park. Following Shearer’s successful application for a Natureworks Grant through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and an additional grant from the Scioto Foundation, the project was able to secure a majority of the funding required.
Portsmouth City Council allocated the remaining funding and development began in 2019. Since its opening, the park has been used by a number of Portsmouth residents and visitors. The park has also hosted several events, including a Paws n Treats Halloween Event, Doggies and DORA Day, and Barks, Beers and BBQ.
"Portsmouth’s first off-leash dog park could open this spring," Portsmouth Daily Times (28 January 2019).
"Off-leash dog park may formally open mid-July," Portsmouth Daily Times (2 July 2019).
"Spock Memorial Park attracts large crowd for grand opening," Portsmouth Daily Times (11 August 2019).