Does SE Seattle Need More Off-Leash Dog Parks?

Does SE Seattle Need More Off-Leash Dog Parks?

“He Said/She Said” highlights some of the most vigorous civil debates that take place in the Go: South Seattle Comment section. The dialogue that occurs here between friends, neighbors and engaged citizens is one of the features that makes Go: South Seattle such a valuable community resource. Go: South Seattle does not necessarily endorse the opinions expressed.

If the rising conflict between south-end dog owners who allow their pets to roam off-leash and those who’d prefer they’d follow the law is any indication, Southeast Seattle may need additional off-leash areas for local pups. Ellen Escarcega, Seward Park neighbor and Chair of Citizens for Off-Leash Areas (COLA), says that one off-leash dog park is just not enough for a community the size of Southeast Seattle, and that Genesee Dog Park is inconvenient for south-end residents coming from Othello or Rainier Beach. She says Martha Washington Park in Rainier Beach is perfect for an off-leash area, but has been hotly contested by neighbors and targeted by Animal Control. Here are what some RVP readers have said.

Mark B: I’m not one for segregation human wise, but I do wish they had separated areas for smaller dogs in the off leash areas. We have 2 Rat Terrorists, Ace, who is a mini, and Ratsmore (AKA Triple B for Billy Bad Butt because he thinks he is the man!) who is a toy. We live just a couple of blocks from Genesee dog park, but my girlfriend is worried about them being with larger dogs.

graham st: All the off-leash dogs is one of the reasons I avoid Martha. They frequently run up on my small kids and drip or shake on us or our stuff. I suppose if there was a way to effectively segregate them to that northern-most water access (the stair case), that would be an improvement, but it would be better if the dogs could go somewhere not currently used by humans for swimming, like some point along the three miles of public lake access between seward park and mt. baker beach.

Seward: Off leash dogs are fine by me as long as they’re under voice control. I walk a skittish dog who’ll get into fights with unfamiliar dogs. 95% of dog owners in Rainier Beach do a great job with their dogs, off leash or on. But if you’ve got a little dog that runs up to big dogs, keep it on a leash. My dog would do them serious damage, if not kill them. There are about 5-6 little dogs I see off leash regularly, and none of them seem to listen to their owners. If a car doesn’t get them, a bigger, aggressive dog eventually will. But all told, the dog etiquette around here is pretty darn good, so I’ll stop complaining.

Tom T: How about putting an off leash park in each of the high crime areas. Seriously.

lemas: I agree that Genesee Dog Park needs an area for wee dogs.

Jean: Don’t think we need any more dog parks. Hard to just enjoy the parks we have without having to watch out for dogs and according to humane society have had problems with dog fights, etc.

Real Rainier Valley Girl: I think there aren’t enough dog parks for a city this size and the number of dogs who utilize the spaces. The Belltown area on 3rd and Bell drew somewhat sketchy characters that made the area seem unsafe. The bad vibes went away when the Citizens for Off-Leash Areas (COLA) established a dog park that draws many canine fanciers, including the Piano Man.

Gwylliam: When dogs out number children in the city and there’s only one muddy acre of land in all of SE Seattle, what gives? Places like Great Britain allow dogs off leash in parks on certain day and seasons. That seems reasonable. Doesn’t have to be all parks and all areas of a park, but there certainly are areas where dogs could be allowed. Perhaps an additional fee, and certification allowing such. Trust is earned, not given.

Mark A: Gennese dog park is too small already – partitioning out a “small dog” area would make it even worse. It is already too small for active dogs. People from SE Seattle are not going to drive to Magnuson for lake access – they are going to drive to Luther Burbank on Mercer Island. Much closer and fewer traffic issues and fewer professional dog walkers with 20-plus packs of dogs. Personally, I would go for trails over lake access.

SolvayGirl: It’s unfortunate that the neighbors around Martha Washington are resisting. It’s already being used as an off-leash park unofficially. I would think the addition of fences and designated spots would improve things. It could JUST be a swimming park for dogs. Many dogs don’t swim, so that would, perhaps, keep the crowds smaller. The city would, of course, need to add improvements, including parking. I might use a dog park if they put one there. Does anyone know the major objections raised by the neighbors?

Erich: I am generally disappointed with Seattle’s dog parks. Usually too small and too bare/featureless. Sure, if you put a couple hundred dogs in one place, any nice features that did exist may get trampled. Also, Genesee can be problematic because of the lack of discipline or as some suggest “small dog areas.” Dog-walkers come in with their 10 – 20 dogs, unleash them all, and may not pay attention when abusive situations start to occur (our dog has been “bullied” by another dog there, and when that dog is in the park, ours just stands and shakes). These are probably not insurmountable issues, but just highlight the need for more variety. Something I ran across in Santa Rosa, CA and other places is the idea that parks are available for dogs during lower-peak times (say before 10am, or after 6pm). I would be on board with something like that. Allow dogs off-leash at Martha before 9:30 or 10:00AM, then after 6:00 PM. Monitor whether people are cleaning up after their dogs (there is a responsibility). During the height of the day, the park is no longer off-leash, or restricted to a single small beach or something.

Photo/Jema Hayes


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