KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- A first-of-its-kind social club in Kansas City is 'barking' down barriers.

Bar K is a unique space with a dog park, restaurant and bar all in one. The owners noticed that their space didn’t represent the makeup of the community and the Black Dog Lovers Club of Kansas City was born.

“We see every shape, size, color of dog, and we want to see every shape, size, and color of human. We currently don’t. We see most white faces so we thought what can we do to scream from the rooftops that bar k is a welcoming, inclusive environment for everybody,” Bark K founder Leib Dodell said.

The goal is to make this space more inclusive. The founders the group want to give people an opportunity to meet new friends, network and build relationships.

With the current focus on racial justice and equity, all advocates say the first step is to listen and learn the struggles others face. So, the hope is by bringing people of all races together in this space will create an opportunity for healthy dialogue.

“It just so happens that here we’re using common denominators of pets to create an opportunity for cross racial relationships to cultivate and start,” said Kiona Sinks, an advisor with the Black Dog Lovers Club of KC.

There’s a myth that Black people don’t like dogs. During slavery, hounds were used to hunt down runaway slaves. In the civil rights movement, German shepherds were used against protestors.

The group wants to use this as an opportunity to educate and help build empathy.

“I think for Black people it just reverses the tide and shows that we can be dog owners and we can have a love for animals which wasn’t the case back in the 70s and 60s,” Sinks said.

“I think there are people of all races that don’t like dogs, and people of all races that do like dogs. So, I think this will break down some of the barriers and stereotypes,” said Aja James, co-founder of the Black Dog Lovers Club of KC.

The group is meeting for the first time at Bar K from 6-9 p.m. Wednesday. Everyone is welcome for this free event.

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