Midlothian’s four-legged residents can now romp and socialize at the newly opened Midlothian Dog Park.

City officials and the public will officially open the nearly four-acre park at 5 p.m. Thursday with a ribbon cutting ceremony at its front gates, located at 1111 Walter Stephenson Road in Midlothian.

The Midlothian City Council approved the construction of the $375,000 dog park in March 2018. The funding came from the Midlothian Community Development Corporation, said Gina Moore, Midlothian Parks and Recreation special events coordinator.

“The park is going to give the community more outdoor time,” she said.

Located in a residential area, the park is surrounded by a chain link fence to keep dogs from escaping without their human counterparts. The space was created to be open for dogs to do whatever they want without venturing off or getting hurt, Moore added.

The vision of the park began in 2007 and will bring the community together, she said. A push came after a 2014 Park survey showed that the need for a dog park was among the top five items needed in the growing city, Moore said.

The park, which has a 20-space parking lot, walking trails, grass, benches and pet waste dispensers, was developed by the Midlothian Parks board, city staff and council, she said.

Dog parks allow for dogs to socialize with other dogs and for people to interact with one another, Moore noted.

“Socializing between other dogs was No. 1,” she said.

Parks like this allow dogs to interact with different ages and breeds, as well as different people, said Maura Davies, Texas Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Texas communications vice president. It offers pets physical and mental enrichment with off-leash time.

“Before taking your dog to your local dog park, first make sure the dog park you’re planning on visiting has appropriate safety measures and rules in place,” she said.

Another reason for the park, Moore said, was to limit the development in that area of Midlothian and maintain a green space.

“We knew development would be there eventually,” she said. So, she and city officials wanted a park to get there first.

Midlothian resident Gayla Clingingsmith, 71, walked her dog Toby, a 3-foot-tall Shih Tzu along 5th Street about a mile away from the new dog park. She wore a maroon jacket and Toby walked with a spring in his step.

She said a dog park would be nice to have in the area, but she may not use it. Toby is reluctant to play with other dogs because he hasn’t interacted with many.

For now, she will continue walking Toby and hopefully make it to the park one day.

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Samantha Douty, @SamanthaDouty

469-517-1451