Mitchell man seeking to add key features to build a better dog park

Among the most notable plans Rick Agnitsch is pushing for are adding a shaded structure, portable bathrooms, more seating, along with building a memorial wall at the dog park, located next to the Cadwell Sports complex in west Mitchell.

Rick Agnitsch, left, pets his dogs, while Jessica Chastain, watches her furry friends play on a hot summer day at Mitchell's dog park, located next to the Cadwell Sports Complex. (Sam Fosness / Republic)

Rick Agnitsch has big dreams for the future of Mitchell’s dog park.

While the dog park is a special place for Agnitsch and his furry friends, he believes there is tremendous potential to make the park even better. After receiving support from fellow dog park-goers on the handful of ideas he had in mind to improve the area, it inspired Agnitsch to begin leading an effort to make them come to life.

Among the most notable plans he’s pushing for are adding a shaded structure, portable bathrooms, more seating, along with building a memorial wall at the dog park, located next to the Cadwell Sports complex in west Mitchell.

“The goal is to put a shelter over a concrete pad with two picnic tables that has a temporary siding on it to block the wind,” he said of the shaded structure feature idea. “I’ve been running my ideas by the group we have who regularly are at the dog park, and they’ve been so supportive. I wanted to get input from everyone so that way we are shooting for goals that meet what’s needed out here.”

The city-owned dog park sits on a little over 3 acres of land, with 2.3 acres dedicated to larger dogs, while just under 1 acre is intended for smaller canines. However, all dogs are allowed to intermingle regardless of size.


As of now, there are a handful of small benches, several dog obstacles and a couple water fountains for both canines and park-goers. Providing some obstacles for smaller dogs, installing lights, signs and speed bumps on the road that’s closest to the dog park round out the list of ideas Agnitsch has his sights set on bringing to Mitchell’s park.

As an avid park-user, Agnitsch said he’s noticed a lack of seating to accommodate the volume of people who regularly bring their dogs to the park. Considering the frequent use the park experiences on a daily basis, Agnitsch said seating and the shaded structure are major priorities of the plans he’s mapped out.

With the recent heat waves that have brought 90-plus degree days to the area, Agnitsch said a shaded structure can be the difference for some dogs to be able to congregate together at the park outside.

“When you go out there on a busy night, you’ll have eight to 10 families out there with people having to sit on the ground,” Agnitsch said. “As I’ve gotten to know many of the regulars who go to the dog park, I’ve heard many say they’d wish there was more seating and some shaded structure areas. Some dogs don't do well in real hot weather, so that shaded area would allow them to get out and socialize during heatwaves.”

Jessica Chastain is one of the many dog park-users backing Agnitsch’s push to bring the handful of features he’s laid out.

“The shaded structure could also be used for the winter as well, because there are windbreakers that can block wind and can wrap around structures,” Chastain said, as she played with her dogs at the park. “I’ve seen some other cool shaded structures in other states like Montana that have things built in to wash your dog off as well, which is something that would be well received here.”

For those who have lost their furry friends, Agnitsch is seeking to have a memorial wall built at the park to remember and honor late dogs, especially canine unit dogs used by law enforcement officers.

“People could put a plaque or brick along the wall for their pets. But a focal point of the memorial wall would be to commemorate the canine unit dogs that serve in law enforcement,” he said. “When I was at the park, one of the guys I spoke with told me about a memorial wall they have for dogs, and canine units. I thought that was such a cool thing and think it could be a great addition here.”


Although Agnitsch is pushing for more additions to the park, he said it still attracts a strong number of locals and travelers in need of bonding time with their dogs. He will pitch his ideas to the Parks and Recreation Board for the first time on Thursday, as the dog park plans were added to the board’s agenda. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Mitchell City Hall.

Rather than asking the city to finance all of the additions, Agnitsch said he’s already planning to lead a community fundraising campaign. So far, Agnitsch said his plans have been well received among city officials.

“I’ve talked to some of the Parks and Recreation leaders already, and they were happy to hear the ideas we have in mind,” he said. “We have a special dog park that is like a strong community in itself. My hope is that these plans will make it grow.”

Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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