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National Pet Day: how Pad for Paws provides for Helena community

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Posted at 4:36 PM, Apr 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-27 11:04:53-04

HELENA — Paws Park, the dog park found in Helena's Centennial Park, was made possible thanks to the Pad for Paws foundation, a foundation dedicated to keeping families and pets together through crisis.

Pad for Paws had what their Operations Director, Debbe Pistoria, calls “humble beginnings”. In 2006, the foundation started around her dining room table, along with her husband, the founder and president of the foundation, and a few animal-loving friends.

Pad for Paws worked together with the city and committee members to eventually found Paws Park in 2013.

“They had established a bike park, a skateboard park and a playground. Well why not a dog park? …Well it came down to we needed a pretty good sum of money to tie this up. And that's when the board of Pad for Paws said ‘yes, the community needs this. We are part of the community we're going to do it’ and so we put the last of the money up for the dog park and that's why it's called Paws Park,” Pistoria says.

Pad for Paws saw the need for the dog park in the community.

“There are so many people that live in multiple housing like housing units, apartment buildings, condos, they don't have their own yards. Helena is a very sports oriented city. So you know, you can't take your dogs out and play frisbee when they're having baseball practice, or when they're having soccer practice, it just doesn't work. And we saw a need for people to be able to get their pets off leash, and really let them have a good time and a chance for socializing with other dogs,” she said.

Through the park and the Pad for Paws foundation, Pistoria knows how important pets are to the community, and the health benefits they can provide.

“You know, it's been proven that owning a pet will make you live longer because of the companionship. We are humans, we need touch. So many people that I go and visit are homebound, disabled. And all they have for their family is that dog or cat, they have no one else. So they provide everything for that human. And that human provides everything for that pet.”

You can donate to Pad for Paws and Paws Park via check or online here. They are currently raising money to install a water fountain for their small dog area.