Establishing a Dog Park in Your Community What’s a dog park and how does it benefit the community? With cities becoming more and more crowded and leash laws becoming more restrictive, many concerned dog own- ers are looking to the creation of dog parks as a solution to their need for a place to spend quality time with their pets. But what is a “dog park,” and what benefits can one bring to your city or town? A dog park is a public park, typically fenced, where people and their dogs can play together. Similarly, a dog run is a smaller fenced area, created for the same use, that is often located within an existing park. As the names imply, these places offer dogs off-leash play areas where their owners can have the chance to socialize with other canines and their owners. Dog parks, which are sometimes managed by park users in conjuction with city or town officials offer a wealth of benefits to dogs, dog owners and the community. More than just “room to roam,” the creation of a dog park... • Allows dogs to exercise and socialize safely. Puppies and adult dogs need room to run, and enclosed play areas per- mit them to do so while preventing them from endanger- ing themselves and others (for example, by running into the path of an oncoming vehicle). In addition, dogs who are accustomed to playing with other dogs and people are more likely to be well-socialized and react well toward strangers. • Promotes responsible dog ownership. Dog parks prevent off-leash animals from infringing on the rights of other community residents and park users such as joggers, small children, and those who may be fearful of dogs. Parks also make it easier for a city to enforce its leash laws, as resident dog owners with park access have no How to Build a Dog Park in Your Community By now perhaps you’ve recognized the need for a dog park in your area, and you’re eager to see one established. So, how can you get started? The following are some strategies for a successful campaign: The First Steps ... • Start with a core group of commited dog park activists. Talk with a half dozen other individuals who are con- cerned about the lack of off-leash spaces. This group may form a park association and will be responsible for meet- ing with public officials, making presentations, maintain- ing the park and defusing any problems that arise. • Hold a public meeting. Once the core group is in place, a larger community meeting will help you get the word reason to allow their canine companions off-leash when outside of the park. • Provides an outlet for dog owners to socialize. Dog parks are a great place for owners to meet other people with common interests. The love people share for their dogs reaches beyond economic and social barriers and helps foster a sense of community. Park users also benefit from the opportunity to ask questions of other owners and find solutions to problems they might be having with their pet. • Makes for a better community by promoting public health and safety. Well-exercised dogs are better neigh- bors who are less likely to create a nuisance, bark exces- sively, and destroy property. out to supporters and solicit input and suggestions. Con- tact other dog owners, dog-related clubs, veterinarians, and local humane society and animal control officials to gather interest and support. Do so by posting, mailing, or distributing notices in areas such as neighborhood bulletin boards, pet supply stores, animal hospitals, and shelters. Encourage people to write letters of support to public officials and the media, and to make presenta- tions to community groups whose backing would be valuable. • Educate your fellow dog owners on the need to be re- sponsible. The owner who neglects to pick up after his dog or who allows an aggressive dog to run loose can do a lot of damage to your cause.