USA Today article about - Dog Parks

JNA

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This article was on the front page.
Have you noticed that Haya El Nasser writes many of the urban issue articles that are of interest to planners.

Fastest-growing urban parks are for the dogs

Cities with the highest per capita (per 100,000 residents) numbers of off-leash dog parks among the nation's 100 largest cities
Portland,OR 5.7
Norfolk, VA. 5.1
Las Vegas 4.1
San Francisco 3.3
Arlington, VA. 3.2

in congested cities where there are large concentrations of singles and childless couples and a dearth of open space, dog parks have become the equivalent of playgrounds and community centers.

Dog owners have become a powerful lobby, ....because they feel that "these children of ours are furry, they have four legs but we're still paying taxes to be here and we still want our recreational needs met."
Just for Dan
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Buffalo, NY dog park at LaSalle Park on the Niagara River is the greatest dog park in the US.
 

Cardinal

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Natural Dog had a very good article on eco-friendly dog parks.

I am very supportive of this trend. Luke is a big fan of dog parks where he can meet other canines and run with a pack for a while. I have also found dog parks to be a great place to conduct informal community input. In one community back in October, I had the chance to talk with about a dozen people who would never show up at a public meeting - three goth teenagers with a terrier, a business owner with a beagle, another guy with a german shepherd puppy (Luke's favorite), a woman in her 70's with an elderly golden retriever.... Where else will so diverse a group of people gather?
 
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I am very supportive of this trend. Luke is a big fan of dog parks where he can meet other canines and run with a pack for a while. I have also found dog parks to be a great place to conduct informal community input. In one community back in October, I had the chance to talk with about a dozen people who would never show up at a public meeting - three goth teenagers with a terrier, a business owner with a beagle, another guy with a german shepherd puppy (Luke's favorite), a woman in her 70's with an elderly golden retriever.... Where else will so diverse a group of people gather?
Dog park arguments on the local community message boards were about the most vitriolic I've ever seen. People freaking out about fencing an area for off-leash dogs, at the same time as they support other exclusive uses like pools, community centers, fancy sports fields that you can't use except by $$ reservation. Walmart and day labor centers were nothing in comparison.

I don't have the numbers but I'd be happy to take a bet that the local dog parks have a higher yearly person-hour utilization per SF than nearly any other part of the park system. That is efficiency in serving your customers!

FWIW the best time to go to the dog park is on the cold days of winter, hopefully when it is nearly raining or snowing... Only the dedicated owners with great dogs will be out there.
 

Linda_D

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Besides "official" dog parks, many cities have "unofficial" ones where dog owners gather regularly to let their dogs roam off-leash.
  • The best known and the oldest in the Buffalo area is in Delaware Park in the section formed by Delaware Avenue, Rumsey Road, and the park lake. The "Delaware Park Dog Walkers" have been using that area for at least 30 years.
  • Another great unofficial park in the Buffalo area is "Dog Island" which is in Ellicott Creek Park (I think that's it) in Amherst, formed by Ellicott Creek and a small canal (the old Erie Canal?).
  • In my city, Jamestown, Bergman Park is a favorite hangout for people with dogs, especially in the winter when the park is closed to vehicular traffic and only the hardiest folks are out in the weather.
  • Another unofficial dog park in the Jamestown area is College Park (aka Hundred Acre Lot) which is located just outside the Jamestown city limits in a town (I'm not which town it is) that doesn't have a leash law.
  • When I lived in the Albany suburb of Colonie, there was a "pocket park" and baseball fields across from my house. Next to the park was a large field used for baseball parking that ran down to an old railroad siding. This was the unofficial "dog park" for most of the area.

A lot of these unofficial parks are only used by dog people during the week or off-season or they congregate in little used areas so that other park users don't complain about them. As others have noted, these are not just places for socializing dogs, but their owners as well. I first met some of my best friends in Jamestown while walking my dog in Bergman Park, and I know at least 2 couples who met while walking their dogs and are now married.

I haven't been to the Buffalo dog park in several years, as my ancient pup really needs to be on a leash in strange places because he gets easily confused. It sounds like it's really been improved over what it was back then. I'm glad to hear that.
 
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