The Canine-Loving Foundation Backing Shelters, Police Dogs, Even Dog Parks

You might know the Stanton Foundation for giving Wikimedia one of its biggest donations, but it’s also a major supporter of canines, including a program to fund a precious commodity for pet owners—the dog park.

A dog park is kind of a funny place. It’s this little chunk of land where a bunch of weirdly diverse descendants of wolves chase tennis balls, while their owners call each other things like “Barley’s mom and dad.” 

But try living in a neighborhood with lots of dogs and no parks, and it becomes very clear just how important the dog park is. Where I live in the Boston area, there’s a shortage of them, and it’s led to a minor turf war at a nearby arboretum. I’ll spare you the gritty details, but it’s caused some community tension, aside from limiting opportunities for pups to cut loose. 

So the Stanton Foundation, which is based in New York, but has a focus in Massachusetts, caught my eye. The foundation of the late Frank Stanton, one of the masterminds behind the rise of CBS, has a unique program devoted to canine welfare, and one of its initiatives is funding dog parks. 

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Stanton was a pretty interesting guy who played a major role shaping the television industry in the mid-20th century. He also happened to adore dogs. Stanton was a lifelong owner of them, including Pembroke Welsh Corgis, one of which he cared for right up until he passed away. 

Stanton’s foundation actually supports an unusual combination of causes, giving to nuclear security and First Amendment issues, known for giving Wikimedia $3.6 million (amid some controversy) in 2011. And dogs. 

Even within the Canine Welfare program, there are some unique interests, and the foundation takes a more stoic tone than you usually see among animal welfare donors. 

Stanton has backed your standard animal welfare sorts of outfits—he was lead donor for a Clinical Care Center at Angell-MSPCA in Boston, and the foundation has given more than $3 million to Boston’s Animal Rescue League. Stanton also gives $150,000 capital grants so shelters can buy mobile adoption vans. 

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But there’s also a fellowship program to support research on dog health and welfare. Another initiative gives out $25,000 grants to police departments to establish K-9 units “to support positive human/dog relationships.”

And then there’s the dog park program, which is pretty cool, covering 90 percent of costs associated with construction for communities that want to build a fenced recreation area. In the foundation’s pragmatic way, it cites “evidence that dog parks enhance the welfare of dogs, strengthen the human/dog bond and build community.”

Both the police dog and the dog park programs are currently only in Massachusetts, but the latter offers a bunch of slick, free resources for communities. Their online Dog Park Guide has stats, graphics, and photos that advise on landscaping, fencing, even the right kind of benches. 

Turns out dog parks are not cheap, with grants reaching $225,000, but the program is not competitive—it gives to any town that meets the requirements and can cover its portion. 

Tennis balls not included.