A Harford County Boy Scout has raised $6,500 to help revitalize the popular Rebel's Dog Park in Fallston, which is closed during ongoing construction of the Humane Society of Harford County's neighboring $7.5 million shelter.
"I really have a passion for animals," Brennan Seay, 15, of Forest Hill, said of his service project as he works to attain the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Scouting.
Brennan is raising money from community supporters, with matching funds provided by the Beneful dog food company.
"They've really helped me a lot with my fundraising goals," Brennan, a Life Scout with Troop 265 in Jarrettsville, said last week.
The dog park, which is part of the Humane Society's property off Connolly Road, has been an entrance to the shelter construction site.
The new shelter opened in March. A parking lot has been paved, and workers are putting in landscaping, according to Pete Hicks, president of the Humane Society board. He said a ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for October.
Brennan plans to build a courtyard, double-gated entry corrals for dogs and a pathway from the shelter parking lot to the dog park.
He plans to start work by next spring, after all shelter construction and site work is completed.
Brennan set up a page on GoFundMe to raise money for the project.
Beneful matched, up to the goal of $6,500, every donation that came in online through the GoFundMe page for a 30-day period that ended Monday, according to Brennan. The company also promoted the crowd funding page.
Beneful matched the online contributions dollar-for-dollar with a $2,249 contribution and an additional $2,002 to get Brennan to his goal, according to a company representative.
Beneful, based in St. Louis, is part of the pet food manufacturer Nestlé Purina PetCare Company.
The GoFundMe page, at https://www.gofundme.com/rebelsdogpark, was established in April. Brennan said he received an email from company officials in July regarding Beneful's Dream Dog Park Project.
The Dream Dog Park Project started in 2010. Beneful works with GoFundMe to help raise money for a dozen local dog park projects across the country each year, according to the company website.
"It really stood out for us because he clearly shares the same passion that we have for dogs and dog parks," James Sun, brand manager for the St. Louis-based Beneful, said of Brennan's proposal.
Sun said company officials have been inspired by Brennan's commitment to animals and serving his community.
'It just made complete sense for us to partner with him on his project," Sun said Monday.
Sun said Beneful has contributed more than $2 million to build new dog parks and improve existing parks in 20 communities in the U.S. during the past six years.
He said dog parks "have really held a special place in the Beneful team's hearts for a while now."
"We've really recognized that dog parks are such a unique place that bring dogs and owners together," Sun said.
Brennan, who is going into his sophomore year at Harford Technical High School, said he had seen that Rebel's Dog Park is closed, and he wants to help build it back up as "a place for dogs to exercise, and humans can socialize with other humans."
"I'm also hoping that it brings attention to the Humane Society," he said.
His family owns two French bulldogs, purchased from a breeder in Pennsylvania, and a cat adopted from the Humane Society.
Brennan is in the cybersecurity program at Harford Tech – he is also passionate about computers, technology and engineering, and he is drawing on his experience in the Bel Air Middle School engineering club as he prepares his Eagle project.
He was a member of the club as a student, and he serves as a mentor, helping members with their projects.
"I thought it might be a good experience for me to build a courtyard because there is lots of engineering involved," he said.
The proposed improvements include a 20-by-20-foot courtyard made of 500 square feet of pavers donated by Hanover Architectural Products, of Hanover Pa., plus a path from the parking lot, fencing around the courtyard and double-gated entry corrals.
There will be one corral for small dogs and another for large dogs, Brennan said. He said the double gates give owners space to calm their dogs down before bringing them into the courtyard.
Brennan's mother, Adriane Lapinski-Seay, encouraged additional donations of tools and materials, even construction equipment to dig a foundation for the courtyard.
Anyone with questions about the project can contact Brennan by email at email@example.com.
Brennan's father, Mark, who is an assistant scoutmaster with his son's troop, said they learned about the need for dog park improvements "when Brennan was looking for opportunities to do something for the animals."
The Humane Society has been seeking funds to create a new dog park on two acres at the Fallston site.
More information is online at http://www.harfordshelter.org/rebels-dog-park.
Hicks, the Humane Society president, noted he has known Brennan and his parents since Brennan was a member of Cub Scout Pack 999, and Hicks was the pack leader.
He put them in touch with Beverly Francis, a co-founder of the park. The park is named for her late dog, Rebel.