Fairfield County Humane Society officials hope to provide recreational opportunities to dogs in the region, as well as increase pet adoptions, through a project to construct a new dog park.

Fairfield County Humane Society officials hope to provide recreational opportunities to dogs in the region, as well as increase pet adoptions, through a project to construct a new dog park.

The Humane Society this month launched a campaign to raise $250,000 to build a dog park on land it leases from Fairfield County at 1721 Granville Pike, Lancaster.

The effort already has generated $84,000 in donations and humane society officials hope to open the approximately two-acre facility, which will have separate areas for small and large dogs, as well as those waiting to be adopted, as soon as next spring.

In addition to providing essential exercise and socialization opportunities for humane society dogs waiting for permanent homes, the park is expected to offer a designated location for dogs to romp and dog owners to congregate.

It's also being designed to bring more traffic to the humane society and raise awareness about pet adoption.

"We've been in this location since 2000 and this is by far the biggest project we've undertaken," said Corey Schoonover, Fairfield Humane Society executive director. "It's right next to the shelter and, along with providing a park for dogs, we basically wanted to drive traffic to the shelter.

"It's going to raise awareness for the dogs that need to be adopted."

Schoonover said the humane society currently has about 80 cats and dogs waiting to be adopted.

"We're constantly taking in animals and adopting them out," he said. "It's a never-ending process."

Although the Fairfield County commissioners voted Aug. 14 to ban destroying animals with carbon-monoxide gas, they will still use lethal injections to destroy animals if homes for them cannot be secured.

The park, Schoonover said, will play a vital role in reducing those instances.

For one, he said, dogs at the shelter will be better socialized because they'll have a space -- separate from the public areas of the dog park -- to exercise and play outside of their cages.

They also will be seen more frequently by the public.

"A main function of the dog park will be to raise awareness about our animals and it's going to provide a new area for our dogs to get out and exercise," Schoonover said.

"It should make them more adoptable."

Upon completion, the Lancaster facility would be just the second public dog park in Fairfield County.

In July 2011, Violet Township opened an 8.9-acre dog park at the corner of Pickerington and Stemen roads after the citizens group, Friends of the Violet Township Dog Park raised approximately $42,000 for the project.

The Violet Township trustees also chipped in about $42,000 for the park and provided the land for it.

Initial plans for the Humane Society's park call for three fenced areas.

They, respectively, would provide recreation space for dogs 30 pounds and smaller, dogs more than 30 pounds and for dogs awaiting adoption.

Schoonover said the humane society hopes to provide a shelter house, picnic tables and water features at the park.

"It's really meant to be a destination place," he said.

"We really want this to be not just a place for dogs to play around, but really a meeting place for dog owners and to really raise awareness for animal rescue and everything the humane society stands for, like better awareness of problems that arise from pet overpopulation and the types of things we deal with that most people don't recognize we do."

In addition to pet adoption services, the humane society is Fairfield County's only agency which investigates reports of animal abuse and neglect.

Those wishing to donate to the dog park project can do so through the Fairfield Humane Society website, www.fairfhumane.org; or by calling the Humane Sciety at 740-687-0627 or by visiting its offices.

Through Sept. 15, the humane society is also holding a raffle for a 2013 Ford Focus to raise funds for the park.

Tickets for the raffle can be purchased at the Humane Society, through its website or by calling its offices.

They will be sold for $20 per ticket, or six tickets for $100.