Parks board weighs dog-washing station at Victor Park

Harlingen residents exit Bark Park at Victor Park. The dog park is open to the public and all dogs.

HARLINGEN — Cleanliness and doggie-ness are not generally compatible concepts, as pet owners can attest.

But the Parks and Recreation Department board is running the rule over the possibility of either contracting with a vendor or running their own operation to put a dog-washing station at the Harlingen Rotary Bark Park at Victor Park.

The popular bark park opened in 2014, and Javier Mendez, the parks and recreation department director, says he’s been approached by pet owners who would like to leave the bark park with pets as clean as they were on arrival.

“A lot of people are out in the parks with their dogs with their pets, so there was a gentleman who approached us and he was interested in installing a dog-washing station,” Mendez told the board at its meeting earlier this month.

“We are entertaining whether we should go out for an RFP (request for proposal) and see who is interested in installing one, or if the city could consider doing it ourselves,” he added.

Mendez said the dog walker suggested a coin-operated system, but he said the city would still have to use its water and sewer system for this type of dog spa, which he described as “almost like a car wash.”

Mendez floated the idea that the Harlingen Rotary Club, which funded the bark park, might be interested in contributing funds to a dog wash as well.

“Is there a big need for this?” asked board member Philip Oxford.

“I don’t know if there’s a big need, but a couple of times that I’ve been out there just walking the site and ran into some people, and there are some areas that are generally muddy when we irrigate,” Mendez answered. “So they’ve approached us about installing a hose so they can rinse off their dogs before they get in their vehicles. I think there is a need.”

Adele Clinton, chair of the board, said Tractor Supply in San Benito has a deluxe dog wash which supplies shampoo, conditioner and air dryers at a cost of $5 to $10 per wash.

“I know when we’ve taken our dogs walking at McKelvey, the lab would always jump in the water and then would come out muddy, and if we weren’t in the truck, then my SUV would get super muddy,” she said. “I see the need.”

“He would jump in the arroyo, get muddy, and he was a yellow lab,” she added. “But by the time he left, he was a chocolate lab.”

“No offense to you, Adele, but you do your dog and I come in with my Shih Tzu after you and try to get her in there, you know, would I want to put my baby in there?” responded board member Diana Esparza. “Something to think about.”

The board voted unanimously to pursue more information on the possibility of a dog wash at Victor Park and possible funding methods.

The board also discussed the possibility of creating another dog park at Pendleton Park, but noted there already are plans for a dog park at the city’s new destination park. Mendez said possible plans for a dog park at Pendleton could be added when the parks’ master plan was updated.