RUSKIN, Fla. — Ott’s Off Leash Dog Sanctuary is a dog's dream.
"When you get to be my age, it’s a short road ahead, so you want to make the best use of your time," explains Dr. Hal Ott.
Dr. Hal Ott is the epitome of using his time wisely. Now retired, his work at Ruskin Animal Hospital, his founding of CARE INC animal adoption center, and this park will ensure his name lives on for a long time.
Mac Miller, born and raised in Ruskin says, "Ruskin was founded on a mixture of common ownership and individual entrepreneurs, and he’s one of the entrepreneurs who made it and is giving back to the community proportionately, it’s very impressive."
In 2003, Dr. Ott entered an honorary mayor for a day contest here in Ruskin.
"Part of my platform was if I win this race I will provide a dog park for this community low and behold I won but I didn’t have any land, so I had to find land, fence it, and that’s how it all started," explains Ott.
It’s grown into a haven for small and large dogs. A memorial brick pathway greets you at the entrance and benches donated by residents sit under the outstretched branches of many picturesque trees.
"The pathways that you can take around the whole park, so our dogs are in the middle playing and you’ve got eyesight on them, and you get your exercise too which most of us need," explains Dr. Ott.
Don’t forget to feed the fire hydrant, this park relies on community support but Dr. Ott assures me, it’s in his will, and this “Sanctuary” is not going anywhere.
"It’ll go on hopefully forever," he says. "We want this to always stay green, and it always will and be open and free to the public."