By Raiza Giorgi

Photos Contributed

With a vision and a team of volunteers, PAWS Park of the Santa Ynez Valley has grown into one of the premier places for taking a pooch on the Central Coast.

Tucked away in Buellton, what once was an overgrown patch of dirt and weeds is now a grassy, shady area that is completely fenced so Fido can run without running away.

“I think back to what we started with and all the people who have helped along the way. It’s incredible what a group of people can do. We have had so much support from the valley, and I love bringing my dogs here to run,” said Carol Lesher Petersen, one of the founding board member of PAWS Park.

Volunteers have spent years on PAWS Park improvements, which have included construction of an approach sidewalk and fences around the off-leash area in Buellton.

Buellton donated the land for the dog park and $100,000 for hardscaping at the off-leash play area, which opened on Aug. 9, 2009, and the nonprofit group has provided supplies, maintenance and landscaping throughout the years. The park has two separate areas, one for small paws and one for large paws. 

PAWS Park is a nonprofit corporation that relies on donations from supporters and work from volunteers to keep the park a safe and friendly place for furry four-footed friends to run and romp. The results of continuous fundraising have gone toward constructing the fencing. Trees and grass have been donated by local people and businesses.

PAWS Park is at 568 Dawn Drive in Buellton. Follow the group’s Facebook page to find out about volunteer opportunities and events that help support the park.