Dog fun park planned at Irish animal sanctuary saved by fundraising campaign
A fun park for dogs is to be built at an animal sanctuary that was on the brink of closure three months ago.
Benvardin Animal Rescue Kennels (Bark) was saved following a massive public fundraising campaign.
Now the charity is to build the North West's first canine recreation centre complete with dog swimming pool and obstacle course.
Shelter spokeswoman Kelly Davidson said: "We believe that there is a growing public need for safe, purpose-built outdoor spaces for dogs to be walked, exercised and socialised, especially in the light of local councils beginning to implement restrictions on dog walkers in public places."
It is hoped the 11-acre development will provide a long-term source of income so Bark can continue its re-homing and rehabilitation work.
The new facility will also include dog socialisation areas with agility courses for smaller breeds and puppies plus flyball and running areas for larger dogs.
There will also be a separate space for un-neutered or unsociable animals as well as nature trails, picnic and children's play areas and eventually a cafe.
A pet memorial garden has been included in the new design.
Bark, which is run by volunteers and relies entirely on public donations, re-homes around 800 unwanted pets a year.
It had been under threat after the land, owned by the USPCA, was put up for sale in January.
Following a huge fundraising drive more than £45,000 was generated and contracts securing the site were finally signed this week.
Ms Davidson said the plight of the charity had not only captured the hearts of the public in north Antrim but also further afield.
An open day event is being held on Saturday August 1 to celebrate Bark's fifth birthday.