We all know waterparks are great for people, but they can also be a good spot for water-loving dogs to hang out. In the ever-long search for quality programming, ending the waterpark season with a dog day is one of the better ways to integrate charitable causes, boost usage, and attract new or different customers. In Spearfish, S.D., the local parks and recreation department holds an annual event called Dog Days! at the local waterpark. This takes place after Labor Day, which marks the end of the regular season for humans.
The following Thursday, well-behaved dogs are allowed to come play in the pool.
According to Chris Hardwood, the city's community activities coordinator, the waterpark’s chlorinators are turned off after the park closes on Labor Day. The chlorine levels are allowed to reduce before the dogs are let in the pool.
Is the chlorine reduction necessary? According to the American Kennel Club, not really. However, the organization does recommend that dogs get a quick spray down after a jump in a chlorinated pool, just in case.
Hardwood said that the dogs don’t present any unique challenges to pool maintenance. “It’s not a big difference between the dog hair and the human hair,” she said.
After the end-of-season event, the park is broken down fairly normally. The filters and pumps are taken apart and cleaned. The pool is drained and then refilled to partially full for the winter cover.
The event was started in 2009 as a charity to help promote and support the local Humane Society.
“We have a fantastic Humane Society in town,” said Hardwood. “They help with our youth events. We’re happy to help out.” She noted that every year the event has gotten a little bigger. For 2015’s event, 193 dogs participated and Dog Days! earned more than $1,700 for the Humane Society.
The waterpark provides lifeguards and a regular staff member to help the Humane Society run the event. They don’t worry too much about potential dog messes. The nonprofit volunteers and staff help clean up after the dogs. So far, Hardwood said, there hasn’t been any problem in the seven years that they’ve held Dog Days!
Hardwood said that the event is great for the nonprofit and the waterpark and that the local City Council always approves funds for it.
“It’s controlled chaos,” Hardwood said. “You can see it’s like joy on their faces. The dogs are running gleefully.”