PITTSBURG — Dog walkers and potential pet adopters can now get to know the animals better along a new trail.

The Southeast Kansas Humane Society opened a new dog-walking trail on Sunday, thanks to the help of a number of community volunteers and organizations.

“It’s an awesome opportunity for our volunteers to come out and walk our dogs and give them some extra training and spend some time with them,” SEK Humane Society Administrator Kelci Cooper said.

She said previously dogs would be walked past outdoor kennels, prompting other dogs to bark and making it difficult for people to bond with a dog.

“It’s difficult to spend one-on-one time with a dog when you have all that happening,” she said. “The trail is super-beneficial in that sense, when you get to go out and spend time with the dog. If someone is looking to adopt, we encourage that they take the dog out to the walking trail, as well as volunteers who just want to come out and walk a dog.”

The trail has been in the plans for quite some time, according to Linda Grilz, who has been part of coordinating the project.

“We had been talking about having a walking trail for several years, and it just took a while to get it off the ground,” she said.

The work began courtesy of Pittsburg State University’s construction students and members of the Crawford County Road and Bridge Crew.

“It was a lot of overgrowth, and they were able to clear off the land,” Grilz said. “From there, we got ahold of the construction students and they were able to come out and make a pathway.”

Grilz said the Kansas City Southern Railroad donated railroad ties to help define the trail’s boundaries and others donated in additional ways, including funds for benches along the path.

“It just makes a really nice addition to what is already a wonderful non-profit out there,” Grilz said.

The trial is a great place for a potential adoptive family to get to know a dog, as well as for volunteer dog walkers to exercise the animals.

“If you want to come out and walk a dog, you’re welcome to,” Cooper said. “You can come out any time between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. during our public hours and we will set you up with a dog that needs walked.”

She said some dogs, in particular, are fence-jumpers and desperately need the exercise.

“The volunteers who come walk dogs really help with some of the dogs that can’t be let outside,” Cooper said, adding the shelter asks volunteers to dedicate about 30 minutes to walking a dog.

— Sarah Gooding is a staff writer at The Morning Sun and can be contacted at sgooding@morningsun.net