Seattle looks to create two new off-leash dog parks amid post-pandemic pet boom

Mar 10, 2023, 3:03 PM | Updated: 4:30 pm
Two of Melissa Martin's Golden retrievers play at the off-leash dog park in Toronto's High Park. (Cole Burston/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
(Cole Burston/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) announced its intention to study 30 sites around the city “that may have the potential to become a future off-leash area” (OLA) for its many, many dogs.

Seattle currently only has a handful of official off-leash dog parks — which can be found here.

“Staff will examine each site from an environmental, engineering, geographic, equity, and dog behavioral perspectives,” Seattle Parks and Recreation wrote on its website alongside the announcement. “At the conclusion of this study, SPR will be able to present to the community a list of sites that we believe are feasible and most suited for future OLAs.”

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After the study ends, Parks and Recreation will present a list of sites — similar to the process the Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission is using to find a suitable site for an airport — most suited for future off-leash dog parks.

The Seattle Park District is set to provide the funding for two new off-leash areas, with Lincoln Park, Me-Kwa-Mooks Park, Hamilton Viewpoint Park, West Seattle Stadium, and the Delridge Playfield listed as some of the early proposed locations SPR has eyed for this expansion.

Pets, specifically dogs, are a staple of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle was home to more dogs than children — 153,000 to 107,178 — according to the latest census data. Pet-oriented businesses have flourished exponentially over the last half-decade with the creation of 45 pet-friendly hotels, 150 pet-friendly restaurants, and four dedicated cat cafes, according to Crosscut.

Off-leash dog parks are meant to be a fenced location where dogs can run and play in a controlled area, while even interacting with other dogs. On-leash dog parks are more for controlled walking, as all off-leash play is prohibited, despite numerous comments and complaints from local residents claiming otherwise.

A survey from Seattle Parks and Recreation showed off-leash areas are used by 35% of Seattle residents, and that off-leash space is one of the most requested facilities residents would like to see more of.

“Given the dearth of dog parks in Seattle and their relatively low cost of development, this is by far the easiest way for the city to make major progress towards facilities that residents are asking for,” the organization Citizens for Off-Leash Areas wrote on its website.

Seattle Parks and Recreation will work alongside community organizations wishing to propose areas for off-leash parks. They have provided a preliminary application for communities and neighborhoods that wish to propose a location. SPR staff to determine if the proposed site meets the threshold criteria for consideration within 30 days.

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Requirements for a suggested off-leash park include it not being near a designated Seattle landmark, not located in a natural area under active restoration, not conflicting with an existing park, while having preliminary approval from the site owner, if not on SPR land.

To locate nearby dog parks, both on- and off-leash, check PetFriendlyTravel. Dog owners can also use neighborhood groups on NextDoor or Facebook to find parks.

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Seattle looks to create two new off-leash dog parks amid post-pandemic pet boom