Regulars at the Heart of Texas Dog Park are rallying to support what is billed as the only dog park in Waco.

As of Wednesday evening, four people had given a total of $95 to a gofundme.com page started after a sign went up at the park warning it is in danger of closing.

The sign says visitors’ irresponsible water use is becoming too costly and that vandals have destroyed four donation boxes.

“The clinic cannot continue to pay for repairs at the park due to selfish stupidity. . . . If this is the goal of the people who come to the park, I will have no choice but to close it,” the sign states.

Waco resident Tabatha Wilson started the fundraiser to help cover general upkeep, cleaning and dog waste bags. Wilson said LuAnn Ervin, a veterinarian who runs the Texas Animal Medical Center next to the park, personally pays for repairs, including a recent fix to a frozen waterline.

“We use (the park) enough that we should help,” Wilson said.

The 3.5-acre park on Steinbeck Bend Drive opened in 2011 next to Ervin’s clinic, and dogs are allowed to roam free in the fenced park on land Ervin owns.

“It’s been great,” said Wes Palaka, a Texas State Technical College student who lives nearby. “I live in an apartment right now and I have a really high- energy dog, so really the dog park is the only way for us to get that energy out. Otherwise, I’m not really sure what I would do.”

Palaka and his dog, Kelly, visit every day. He said the park is busiest on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

“It’s just a great place to go and let him socialize with other dogs,” Palaka said.

Georgie Price said she has taken her dog, Jax, a handful of times.

“My experience has been OK,” Price said. “Sometimes the big dogs and the little dogs are in the big dog area, and that causes problems, but I haven’t had any issue. I’ve only been a handful of times.”

She said the park is a safe place to let dogs run around and socialize, and she would be sad if it closed.

When the park opened, the Tribune-Herald reported Ervin paid about $50,000 to get it started. She was not available for an interview Wednesday.

Phillip has covered higher education for the Tribune-Herald since November 2015.

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