Dog rules are returning to normal in Regional Parks on October 2, 2020, with dogs being allowed off-leash in designated areas once again. For the safety of all park visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic, starting in March the Park District requested that all dogs be kept on-leash to prevent crowding and unsafe interaction between unrelated park visitors. Unleashed dogs tend to group together, making it difficult to maintain social distancing.
The Park District is one of the most dog-friendly districts in the nation, with many parks allowing off-leash dogs in designated areas. Dog owners are also one of the District’s largest user groups. A recent survey showed that “dog walking” is the preferred activity for 39 percent of park users, second only to hiking.
“We thank dog owners for their understanding during COVID-19 and their cooperation with the temporary leash restrictions,” said General Manager Robert Doyle. “The restrictions have helped keep parks and trails open and safe. Regional Parks, now more than ever, play an important role in maintaining mental health and providing places where people and their pets can exercise in a safe, socially distant manner.”
To help keep trails and parks enjoyable for everyone, including pups and park-goers, the Park District has begun a new public information campaign promoting good dog owner behavior.
“The return of normal dog rules is a reminder that dog owners need to be responsible and share the parks with others,” said Doyle. “Dog owners need to bag and bin their dog’s poop, leash their dogs in designated areas, including parking lots, trailheads, and paved trails, and keep their dogs on-leash around cattle and horses. Cattle play an important role in reducing vegetation and fire risks.”
When off-leash, dogs must be kept in view and under voice control, and must return to owners when called. Dogs are not under control when they threaten, harass or chase other dogs or wildlife, display threatening behaviors, physically harm other people directly or indirectly by their actions, or touch or jump on park users who have not invited or engaged in interaction with the dog. Failure to control your dog is a violation of the Park District’s Ordinance 38. The harming or harassment of wildlife is also a violation of state and federal law and subject to penalties and fines.
For more information, visit www.ebparks.org/PupPro.