The south side of Lawrence Township is still on track to get a dog park despite not winning the PetSafe-sponsored grant contest
Residents tried and voted often in support for the $25,000 grant, but it was not enough when the results were revealed Sept. 2.
The winners of PetSafe’s “Bark for Your Park” nationwide grant program, were two towns in Pennsylvania and one each in South Carolina and Arizona. Lawrence had been one of 20 finalists in the contest. The votes took place in August.
Township officials opened two bids for the dog park Sept. 8. A contract is expected to be awarded at the Lawrence Township Council’s Sept. 20 meeting.
The dog park will have two fenced-in areas. One fenced-in area will be for small dogs and the other one will be for large dogs.
Each fenced-in area will have shade structures, benches, waste disposal stations, dog-friendly water fountains and other dog park features, said Municipal Manager Kevin Nerwinski.
“South Lawrence needs a dog park,” Nerwinski said. The town currently has one dog park, but it is located in Village Park in the northern part of the township.
Superintendent of Recreation Nancy Bergen suggested naming it “Hero Dog Park” after reading an article in The Lawrence Ledger written by the late James Hewitt in 1995. Hewitt, who died in 2012, was a World War II veteran and was present during Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
Hewitt, who was a retired Lawrence police officer, wrote that when he was stationed on a small island in the South Pacific, he befriended a captured German shepherd that had been trained as a war dog by the Japanese army. The dog was adopted by Hewitt and his U.S. Army unit, who named him Moose.
Hewitt wrote that he and Moose developed a bond that lasted until Hewitt was transferred to Hawaii for jungle training school. He had to leave the dog behind. Moose was later transferred to a U.S. Army base to attend K-9 training school. Moose “entered” the U.S. Army and served alongside American soldiers.
Hewitt kept track of Moose, hoping to be reunited with the dog after the war. But Moose was killed in June 1945 when he leaped on a hand grenade to protect his handler. The hand grenade was tossed toward Moose and his handler by one of two Japanese soldiers they had discovered hiding in the grass.
Hewitt received a letter from the Central Pacific Base Command that explained how Moose died. The dog knew the hand grenade was a weapon and he jumped on it as it exploded. The dog saved his handler’s life, the letter said.
“Somewhere on the Pacific Island of Okinawa (Japan) where Moose died, there is a grave marked ‘Moose, U.S. Army K-9 Corps, Army Serial Number OX-79, killed in action against the enemy June 20, 1945,” Hewitt wrote in the newspaper article.