A safe place to play in the Zemurray Park


Zachary Araki

Quasar, a corgie, cools off at Zemurray Park.

Zachary Araki, A&E Editor

Dog owners can find a community as well as an area for their dogs to socialize and exercise at Zemurray Park.

Constructed in 2013, the dog park is located near the back of Zemurray Park. Dogs can play off leash in the fenced-off area, divided into a part for small dogs and another for large dogs.

Nancy and Mike Dehnel, dog owners, head to the park with their three dogs about four or five times a week. 

“We bring our dogs here, let them run for about an hour, and go home, and they all go to sleep,” said Nancy Dehnel. “It’s very nice. It’s great exercise for them.”

Besides exercise and socialization for the dogs, the park has brought together a community of dog owners.

“I feel like not only have I met some really nice, interesting people, but the dogs alone, you get to see all different size, shapes, breeds,” said Jennifer Giannobile, a dog owner. “The community has a really good group.”




Giannobile worked with other dog owners to make the Facebook page Zemurray Dog Park Pack to create an outreach and support group for dog owners. Since its creation in May, the page has gathered over 120 members.

Giannobile said, “It’s a good source for us to give each other tips on what happens if you get into a dog fight, how to break up a dog fight, different issues with dogs as far as health and nutrition and skin rashes and what to use and how to prevent that and training.”

The group approached the mayor about their plans for improvements to the dog park.

“It’s a pretty slow process,” said Giannobile. “We basically presented a proposal to the mayor and sat down with him and told him some things we were really interested in possibly getting because we’ve been to several other parks all around like Baton Rouge, Mandeville, Covington, and everybody seems to have really nice parks.”

Potential improvements include more benches, agility equipment, water stations and a land expansion. Charles Borchers, grants manager for the City of Hammond, works with the dog owners and other departments to implement such improvements. Currently, grant applications have been submitted, and Borchers is working to secure potential funders. While they are looking to improve the dog park, Borchers feels the park has a sizable land.

“What I find is it’s deceptive,” said Borchers. “When you’re on the ring road driving in front of it, it doesn’t look that big, but I think when you actually get out, step into the dog park, particularly the large dog park area, you realize there’s actually a lot of room for dogs to run.”

Borchers encouraged anyone with ideas for improving the dog park to contact him at 985-277-5647 or [email protected]

Giannobile hopes to increase awareness of the dog park.

“A lot of people don’t really know it’s here,” said Giannobile. “People have been living here for many years. We just recently had a spot at ‘Hot August Night,’ and that was really nice, and everyone that walked over was like, ‘Oh, wow, I didn’t even know you all had a dog park.’ So, just come out and see us and help support us.”