Wheeling residents will need to bark a little louder over the final week of PetSafe's "Bark for Your Park" online voting competition if the city is to win $25,000 toward construction of a dog park.
Voting remains open through midnight Friday at www.petsafe.net. You can vote twice daily - once at that website, and once on the company's Facebook page.
In order to surprise the winning city when it announces final results on July 31, PetSafe has removed the contest standings from its website. As of Friday afternoon, Wheeling trailed overall leader Texarkana, Texas, by about 37,000 votes in the race for the competition's $100,000 grand prize; however, Wheeling only needed to overcome a 4,500-vote deficit to overtake Auburn, N.Y., to capture a $25,000 consolation prize.
The competition's 15 finalists are divided into small, medium and large cities, and the city with the top vote-getter in each category will receive $25,000, along with the city whose vote total is highest compared to its population.
Auburn and Wheeling are the front-runners in the medium cities category.
The contest's final day, Friday, likely will be the key to any hopes of a Friendly City comeback. Like every other Friday during the contest's final round, the weekly "7-Vote Sniff-Out" will provide an opportunity for voters to make their vote count for seven by finding and correctly answering a question hidden on PetSafe's website.
This must be done prior to voting for the extra votes to count.
The preferred location for Wheeling's dog park is a strip of land along Wheeling Heritage Trail in Elm Grove, across Interstate 470 from the J.B. Chambers Youth Sports Complex.
Led by founders Gregg Boury and Jeremy Morris, a group of canine-lovers calling itself "Wheeling Needs a Dog Park!" has worked to raise awareness of the contest and encourage people to vote daily. To fulfill a contest requirement, the group filmed a 30-second YouTube video encouraging people to vote for Wheeling that has received more than 5,600 views - more than twice that of the second-most viewed video, filmed by Braunfels, Texas.