Friday Question of the Day

Now I don’t really have a dog in this fight but a number of people have written me to discuss it. Ed note: you’ll get the atrocious pun in a moment. At any rate Intangible Arts just wrote a great post about neighborhood dog parks. Like I said it doesn’t effect me very much. But I often walk by a dog park and I’m telling you the joy I see on the people’s faces and the dog’s faces (if that’s possible) seems worth it to me. It really does seem to build a sense of community as well. But others say it is a total waste of money that could be invested in worthier causes. I’m not sure I buy that argument. I think the joy that dog parks bring people and their pets is worth it. As long as they don’t take over the people parks. So what do you think: are dog parks a beautiful site or a complete waste of money and resources?

52 Comment

  • No question in my mind, a beautiful site and total community glue. The success hinges on responsible pet owners keeping the park clean and beautiful. I for one, would be more than happy to scoop multiple poops from irresponsible owners to have access to a dog park. Perhaps I notice it more because I am always out with my two dogs, but there are lots of dogs in PW. Invariably, their owners are people you want to meet. I am sure there is some ancient chinese saying to convey what I mean, but I am too brain dead at the moment to think of it. Anything that brings people in a community together over a shared interest (minus Starbucks) is a plus in my book.

  • Dog parks are excellent places for a community to gather. While DC is a dog friendly city, it totally lacks fenced in dog parks. I own a jack russell terrier and he is unable to run off the leash in dog parks that do not have fences, but he needs his exercise. The only time I have been able to have him off his leash was in Brooklyn, NY in a dog park at N 12th and Union. He loved it, and I loved it.

    There was such a sense of community in that area of Brooklyn because of the dog park. Everyone, not only the dog owners, knew each other and were generally happy to talk to anyone. Not only the Brooklyn hipsters to Brooklyn hipster but hipster to long time resident to visitors. It was a great feel.

    There are a lot of projects on which money should be spent, but creating closed in dog parks are not expensive, and they reap more benefits than the cost.

  • Not just NYC, but even hick towns in Virginia have dog parks. DC completely lags behind everyone on this. How is a dog park any bigger “waste of money” than paying to upkeep parks for folks to play softball and basketball? Or even worse, the most boring sport in the world, soccer? If people don’t want dog parks I certainly don’t want taxes to continue to encourage people to play soccer on my dime. At least dog parks aren’t BORING.

  • Unless the dogs are playing soccer.

  • It’s refreshing to see people who agree that dog parks are a good thing as oppossed to reactions posted on the listservs. Man, those people HATE the idea of dog parks (and seem to hate dogs and dog owners).

    I, for one, miss taking my dog to the park. It does create a sense of community that, regardless of what some ignorant people say, is not elitist, racist or anything of the sort. In fact, when we used to go to one particular park, there were owners of all races, genders, etc. If anything, the dog park brought us together a bit more.

  • Pingback: money » Friday Question of the Day

  • Are there any potential areas around PW which could become dog parks?

  • Sorry folks…. but each dog park will cost the city $80,000 to construct and thousands more per year to maintain. Do you really think that the city can afford to spend a projected $500,000 this year on constructing essentially large public toilets for dogs and rat feeding grounds? (not to gross you out, but rats love animal feces). Maybe if that money was spent on programs for the neighborhood kids, or safer playgrounds then the general crime rate would go down? This is a ridiculous and obscene waste of public money for the imagined enjoyment of your pets.

    Dogs should be on leashes and parks should be for kids.

  • Dog parks have positive impacts on communities. Not only do they bring people together, but they raise property values, increase safety, and as any dog owner knows, a tired dog is a quiet and respectful dog.

    And as for the idea about dog poop being attractive to rats, any dog park I’ve ever been to has almost maniacal rules about picking up after your dog should he/she drop a deuce in the park.

  • Also, the new regs require community groups to pay a large part of the costs of establishing and maintaining the dog parks, so the cost to the city is minimal.

  • “Reality Folks”: THERE!! I thought things were going along too peacefully.

    Seems to me that the “public money” you’re referring to largely comes from the “public” — Right? Evidently quite a bit of the “public” is clamoring for at least ONE decent dog facility in the city. And hell, brother, we’ve GOT playgrounds. Citizens with children have plenty of options when it comes to letting their things off leash.

    Rats? As long as you’ve got a house and a kitchen and a trashcan and a basement, you’re feeding more rats than any dog in this city.

    Now: if you can find a way to select where YOUR tax dollar go, so as to avoid supporting things you don’t believe in, please share. Because hell’s donkey’s, I’m all over that.

  • I love dogs, and big time. I am just not fond of situations like those in Shaw-where a playground or two have been hijacked. And while I know the folks using Congressional Cemetery are paying to use that site for same, well-its kinda like manifest destiny or something…

  • We don’t own a dog, but my father-in-law, who resides in Capitol Hill just a block from Lincoln park does, and his dog *loves* going to the park and playing with the other area doggies. I’ve walked down with him a few times and the scene is great–fellow dog owners just hanging around chatting with each other while their dogs are having a great time. I certainly think investments in dog parks are a great idea, and like Oden said above–if you’re going to be funding basketball courts and softball fields, dog parks make sense as well.

  • One public dog toilet (PDT’s)is fine in the city is fine, but multiple ones around the city taking away open area for kids is ridiculous. Given a choice between a rat eatery or a play ground across the street from me… I would take the play ground.

    Furthermore, there are serious public safety concerns when you have dogs off leashes. The leash laws in DC are in place to protect citizens (ie defenseless kids and the elderly) from vicious dog attacks. Dogs can easily get out of control and do damage.

    Finally, dogs aren’t children. You can’t compare funding basketball court and softball fields with funding PDT’s. We need more parks for people.

  • One public dog toilet (PDT’s) in the city is fine, but multiple ones around the city taking away open area for kids is ridiculous. Given a choice between a rat eatery or a play ground across the street from me… I would take the play ground.

    Furthermore, there are serious public safety concerns when you have dogs off leashes. The leash laws in DC are in place to protect citizens (ie defenseless kids and the elderly) from vicious dog attacks. Dogs can easily get out of control and do damage.

    Finally, dogs aren’t children. You can’t compare funding basketball court and softball fields with funding PDT’s. We need more parks for people.

  • Not that I’m a misanthrope or anything, but I would love to see the “adult” park on 11th and Monroe converted into a dog park.

  • In Adams Morgan, when a neighborhood group (amdogs) decided to get together to reclaim a small unused portion of Walter Pierce Park as a dog park, this not only created an amazing sense of community, but it actually decreased crime and vagrancy in the park. By having people there constantly, and after the lighting was installed, not only did the entire park improve–including the soccer field, basketball court, and children’s playground (in part because dogs were no longer running around those other areas), but the area also became much safer. Not to mention that neighbors got a chance to meet each other in a relaxed context. And there was plenty of space to go around.

  • My thoughts?

    Call me a grumpy old man, I don’t care…but after living in Petworth for over 5 years I have come to dislike dogs quite strongly. There are too many…too noisy…the neglectful owners…poop…and just generally annoying. And I grew up with and loved my dog as well.
    Public swimming pools, sure. New tennis/soccer/baseball betcha. After hours care…great. Refurbished playgrounds…sign me up. Public toilets…hallelujah! The very last thing that I would want the DC Park and Rec to spend money on would be a dog park.

    But if you dog owners are able to get the city to make you one…good on ya, but I’d be pretty disappointed if it was on my block.

  • Wow, Reality. How can you see through all that ignorance? Apparently you can’t. The dogs would be in a fenced in area when they are off-leash so how are other people in danger? If you don’t come into the fenced in area, you’re not going to get mauled. Besides, on the average, most dogs aren’t aggressive. You and bear seem to have a knack for gross generalization.

  • People that hate dogs should be the biggest supporters of dog parks. What better way to keep them out of your yard and away from your defenseless children than by having a fenced-in area where they can run around in isolation?

  • I used to live right across from an dog park (and now live just a block down) and I always enjoyed living across from it. Owners were responsible in cleaning up after their dogs and it was a terrific gathering place for the neighbors, not to mention serving as an effective neighborhood watch. There’s a separate fenced playground for children into which the dogs aren’t allowed (which is as it should be).

  • The people behind the PDT’s tend to be fanatical about their dogs… somehow equating this ridiculous extravagance to a civil rights movement for their dogs. It’s not.

    Pauper – no need to insult people on this board. Dissent on this issue is justified. Please don’t let your fanaticism blind you to what other people want in their communities. Again, dogs have no rights, but the vast majority of DC residents who don’t want to waste their property taxes on special interest projects do.

  • If you had a choice of a single PDT vs. landmines all over the neighborhood, which would you rather? Most dogs actually go along the way, and rarely go at the park because they’re too busy playing.

    There are ways to finance a dog park outside of spending tax money the dog haters cry about. While in the Miami suburbs I went to a dog park with advertising on the fences (similar to what you’d see in the outfield at a minor league baseball game). This not only helped pay for dog friendly water fountians, it made the park less of an eye sore to dog haters.

  • There are plenty of vacant green spaces in the neighborhood. If your dog is trained not to run in traffic, then you have got yourselves a de facto dog park. If it’s someone’s private property and that person doesn’t want your dogs, then find another one — or buy yourselves a vacant lot and put up your fence. I lived down the street from an unfenced dog park at 18th and S. So I don’t quite understand all the whining about wanting someone else to put up fences and hold your hands.

  • Reality: I’m sorry you are scared of dogs, maybe you ought to see a therapist?

  • I am not blinded by fanatacism at all. Sorry you don’t like getting called out when you try to substantiate your claims with nonsense. You say to not insult people, but you insult dog owners when you call dog parks PDTs, as if we don’t pick up after our dogs. As if all of us are irresponsible neighbors leaving our dogs to run amuck and terrorize young children and the elderly. Honestly, do you work for FOX news?

  • I have no problem with dogs. Love them! It’s dog owners that I take issue with. When they begin to equate their animal with a human-being, they need a reality check. Too many owners want to treat their smelly fur-balls like children. Bringing them inside the house, buying toys and treats. What ever happened to the days when the dog lived in a doghouse in the back yard? When I was growing up our dog lived under the back porch. We didn’t need to buy him toys or treats to stop him from tearing up the furniture, and we loved him just the same! When I was growing up there was no such thing as a park for dogs, yet some how we were able to get him plenty of exercise. In the city no dog/animal has the right to run free. You want to own a dog that need to do a lot of running around then you should think about moving to a more rural setting. It is cruel punishment to keep a dog cooped up that needs space simply because you like the way that breed looks. All that being said. There is more open space in DC than any other city I’ve been to or lived in, and plenty are devoid of people. Large or small. Put the leash on your dog, put on your running shoes or get on your bike and find one. ‘Cuz you know you need the exercise more than the animal does. Dog parks in NYC might make sense but in DC they don’t.

  • Hey Jam III: Baltimore has dog parks, Philly has dog parks. So they “make sense” in B’more and Philly but not DC? C’mon.

  • I never have had a dog but I know that dog parks build community by fomenting relationships among neighbors who would otherwise not meet or talk with one another. Creating some dog parks is money well spent.

  • By the way, Chicago goes one further with ‘dog beaches’. For real.

  • Sorry to burst your bubble Reality Folks, but I think you’ve got it totally backwards when it comes to rats and dog parks and playgrounds.

    Playgrounds are destined to have more food wrappers and half-eaten snacks and empty bottles and what-not than any dog park is. And the last time I checked, rats tend to like our leftovers more than they like dog pooh.

    As most here have pointed out, dog parks are great for the community. You don’t have to be a fanatic about dogs to be in favor of dog parks. My neighborhood doesn’t have anything resembling a dog park, but if you spend any more than 5 minutes outdoors, its easy to see that the most active members of the community also tend to be those that frequently walk their dogs.

    The creation of dog parks doesn’t necessarily, in any way, have to take away from playgrounds or other types of recreation areas. The nearest park to my home is Fort Totten Park, which could easily include a fenced-in dog park. If you’ve ever been to Fort Totten Park then you know there’s not much there… including human visitors. Why not carve out a dedicated area for dogs to romp around together in?

    Lastly, it should be pretty clear from the people who have posted here, dog parks are just as much for the owners and other community members as they are for the dogs. Certainly that has to be given some weight.

  • Pauper – When you go out of your way to push a special interest you open yourself up for criticism. In America the right to question government waste belongs to all it’s citizens. You might not like what I’m saying, but the reality is that you and the rest of the PDT pushers are a special interest group, thus you will be criticized for asking the city to divert funds from main stream projects to your “pet” project.

    Deal with it.

    Like it or not, public dog toilets do take away public areas from the general public. In addition, the current proposal calls for the vast majority of the $80,000 per PDT to come from public coffers. I respect the rights of people to own dogs and walk them and to even play with them in parks. My only concern is with more government waste.

    Do you really think that the $500,000 the DC government plans to spend on these rat eateries should not be spent on more police, more books, better play grounds etc.

    Kids first. Animals second.

  • You do know that more money is spent per child in DC than in almost every other district in the country, right? More isn’t the problem. If DC wants to spend the dog park money on programs that will promote efficiency in the schools, police departments, etc. then by all means, have at it. You and I both know that isn’t happening.

    And furthermore, as crazy as this might sound, $500,000 is a drop in the budget bucket. It’s an incredibly small percentage of tax receipts.

    Finally, we’re not talking about dogs. We’re talking about people, tax-paying residents even, who would like the local government to provide a service. Is it a necessity? No. But many of us are of the opinion that it is a small way to improve the community. Obviously you would opine differently.

  • Did you know that more people know the name of their neighbor’s dog (75%) than know the name of their neighbor (25%)? Dog parks are a good thing for the community, whether you are a dog owner or not.

  • Reality: What about people that hate kids and like dogs? Shouldn’t their tax dollars be able to go to something they like too? We can’t pick and choose what our taxes cover, what’s pointless to you is valuable to me and vice versa.

    And out of curiosity, what services do you think are being shorted because of proposed dog parks specifically? Was DCPS’ budget shorted for dog parks? What playground was shuttered for a dog park? Where are the lines of kids crammed into parks because there is so little green-space in DC? What improvement “for the kids” had to be trimmed for Fido? You make these allegations without any evidence. I don’t think there is any proof at all that kids are being shortchanged for puppies. You’ve convinced yourself that it’s going to cost you (and poor children) something that it isn’t. Have your taxes been raised for a special dog park fee?

    Nobody would die if they closed the soccer fields and saved those tax dollars, but there would be a lot of really angry shirtless guys in the parks trying to kick a basketball through a hoop. Why do we have to pay taxes for a big vacuum cleaner to pick up leaves? Why can’t people rake them into a bag like in the olden days when I was a kid and I raked while listening to the Bee Gees?

    Dog parks enhance the quality of life and bring DC ever so much closer to being a true world class city… like Baltimore.

    Stop hating on Fido.

  • Pauper – $500,000 does sound crazy (thanks for agreeing with me). Also, don’t try to frame my argument to imply that asking the city not to waste money is somehow not improving the community.

    One more time, $500,000 can be better spent than this special interest project. Third time, the $500,000 (ie half a million dollars) would make a fantastic playground in Petworth.

    PS: Regarding your Fox News and “ignorant” swipes – Fanatics use personal attacks when they have nothing else of intelligence to say. Most educated people would opine the same.

  • Do you people have jobs? Who has time to post these novels let alone read them all?

  • oden – ummm hating kids definitely puts you in a bizzarro minority.

  • Reality: Is it not fanaticism to irrationally suggest that dog feces attracts rats better than, oh, JUST ABOUT ANYTHING? Or that FENCED IN dog parks breed “vicious dog attacks”? Or that poor children are just desperate to find an open park space to play in since only 1/3 of the District is (nearly always empty) green-space?

  • Reality: I not only hate them, I’m sick of my tax dollars being “wasted” on the little buggers.

  • And they all smell funny.

  • I can’t take it anymore. I feel like I’ve been banging my head off a wall. Calling you ignorant isn’t a “swipe”, it’s a statement of fact. Now I’m wondering if your time wouldn’t be better spent on some reading comprehension classes because you obviously need work in that department.

    I guess we’ll just see what happens. With any luck, I’ll be standing across the street from your house in a nice, government-funded dog toilet, I mean park.

    Regardless, I submit. You want the last word? Have at it. It’s all yours.

  • Wow! I am just wondering if I could teach my dogs to bite RealityFolks and then poop in his yard on command. Just kidding. Sort of.

    Regarding tax money, I can think of about a million and one things I’d rather not see 30% of my income spent on, but you just can’t win them all. And as a government employee, I can definitively say that (at least for my agency) money is not the issue, inefficiency and bureaucracy is. I can’t imagine that local DC government is any different, and I think the $$ spent on education per kid stat is a prime example of this.

    By the way, Baltimore City has the highest $$ spent on education per kid, and their school system is a heartbreaker. But they do have some pretty kickin dog parks!

  • I once heard a lesbian commedian say you’re either a kid-lover or a dog-lover but not both– I don’t know if that applies to the general public or just lesbians, but I’m one of the ones who likes dogs. Still, I think if dogs and kids are competing for resources the kids should get 99.99% of them, since they are human beings after all. I’m also with JAMIII in my dislike for dog owners who feel like their pets are entitled to certain rights.

    Nevertheless, both kid parks and dog parks are good for the city and I think there’s room for both. The dog parks do build community, as others have said, and people will to continue to keep their dogs cooped up in yardless apartments whether there are dog parks or not, so it would be nice if the poor creatures have some place to stretch their furry little legs.

    It seems to me like much of DC can be divided into child-dominant neighborhoods and kid-dominant neighborhoods. Where I live (in Southwest) there are kids running all over the place but I only know a couple dog owners, while in Dupont Circle every other person is walking a dog but a child is a rare sight. So in my neighborhood a kid park would make sense, while in other places a dog park would get more use.

  • Reality– are you Jonetta Rose Barras?

    Whoever you are, I’m sorry that you’ve had so many negative experiences with dogs. There are tons of irresponsible dog owners out there, and that makes me sad. These are the ones who keep animals penned up all day, let them crap on your lawn, avoid training them and let agressive behavior exist. Boo to them. They are bad. Similarly, there are a lot of pretty crappy parents (of children) out there. …Ironically, you do need a license to own a dog, and not a child. What’s that all about?

    Irresponsible dog owners don’t take their dogs to the dog park. I hate to oversimplify the issue, but I really does boil down to this: Dog park people are good dog people, and assets to the community. A few nut-jobs slip through the cracks, but they are not the majority.

    As a childless (but not child hating) tax payer, I would LOVE to see my tax dollars go toward something that I’d use on a regular basis. I believe that those prices are a BARGAIN for a park service that would actually be highly used and valued by the community.

    On a side note, when did pets and children become two separate issues? Don’t pets and children go together like peanut butter and jelly? Am I wrong or do pets no longer help children learn about responsibility, the life cycle, caring for others etc?

    And another side note… Out of curiosity, I wonder how much the pool at Takoma Community Center costs to maintain on a yearly basis. Don’t get me wrong- I love the pool and don’t want it to go away, but of all it’s virtues, the fact this it is virtually EMPTY during peak commuter hours is my absolute favorite. (well, that, and the fact that the kiddie pool is totally separate, so I never have to swim in… kid water. Kidding…)

  • Anonymous brings up a good point, I don’t want my tax dollars going to pay for a huge kid toilet in Takoma. Drain the pool.

  • I love kids and dogs. I would rather not have my tax money going towards schools, welfare, subsidized housing, and other services I that I don’t utilize. I would much rather put my tax dollars to a service I actually use, i.e. dog parks, bike lanes, better public transportation. I don’t get a choice. I think that dog park haters need to accept that we all have to contribute to public service we do not agree with. If a system could be established to allow residents to choose where their money goes, I have a feeling there would be a lot more dog parks and fewer people receiving food stamps and subsidized housing. Schools would also probably get less money than they do now as well.

    I agree that dog haters should be excited about a fenced in area for people to take their dogs. This keeps them off the street and away from people who are scared of them. Most dogs are very sweet and in general the mean ones are trained to be that way. having people at dog park decreases crime and increases the number of people out and about looking for others doing bad. As far as it being a public toilet, if people are cleaning up after their pooches, what makes it a public toilet? How is it any different than your neighbor having a dog and letting them pee/poop in their backyard. In fact, I would wager it is cleaned up a lot faster in the dog park, than in a individuals back yard. This makes it less a public toilet than say your back yard.

  • Just for a different point of view for whom don’t’ think that public tax money should spend to create parks for kids, and improving child education.

    How about people who don’t have children, and not having children in near future? How it justifies in spending their tax money for your kids, while you declared dog park is wasting of money?
    Aren’t you thinking all about you and your kids, with out realizing that your neighbor, who does not have child, but a dog, might be benefited from a dog park.

  • Sorry, what I meant was………

    Just for a different point of view for whom don’t think that public tax money should be spend to create a dog park, but parks for kids, and improving child education.

    How about people who don’t have children, and not having any child in near future?
    How it justifies in spending their tax money for your kids, while you declared dog park is wasting of money?

    Aren’t you thinking all about you and your kids, without realizing that your neighbor, who does not have a child, but a dog, might be benefited from a dog park?

  • DCDOG asks for your help in supporting proposed
    regulations for
    DOG PARKS in DC!!

    As many of you know, a significant effort has been undertaken over a number of years to establish dog parks in the District. After many fits and starts, we are reaching the finish line. However, your help is urgently needed and the deadline is November 2, 2007.

    Clark Ray, the new Director of Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), has new Proposed Dog Park Regulations that you can read on DPR site.

    Click here to read the new proposed regulations.

    These regulations seem to us to be fair, reasonable, and strike a balance between flexibility and accountability. They have eliminated the onerous restrictions that were previously proposed.

    We recommend that these new regulations be approved without modification. If you agree (and you are a DC resident), you should make your opinion known to Mr. Clark. Each adult in a DC household may participate by choosing one of the following 3 options:

    1. Click here to sign an online petition.

    **Please complete with full names (first/last) others wise your signature will be deleted. You
    must include your email address to make the signature valid, but no emails appear publicly— unless you specify otherwise. Also, the zip code field is required.

    2. Email Clark Ray at [email protected]

    3. Write Clark Ray: 3149 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20010

    These newly revised regulations came about because there was a huge outcry against the previously published onerous regulations, so your voice does make a difference.

    A sample email/letter is placed at the end of this email. Feel free to copy/paste. If you write a letter, please be sure to sign it. There are numerous individuals and established groups that are very much against dog parks. Your support is very important.

    Feel free to forward this email and petition link to all supportive friends and businesses who are DC residents. Each adult in same household may sign separately. Only DC residents should participate in the public comment options.

    Thank you, DCDOG’s Dog Park Task Force.


    Clark Ray
    Department of Parks and Recreation
    3149 16th Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20010

    Re: In Support of New Dog Park Rules

    Dear Mr. Ray:

    I am writing in support of the regulations regarding dog parks that were released October 12. The Department has struck a rational balance between the needs of dog owners with the concerns of other park users and neighborhood residents. These rules will go a long way towards reducing conflicts over scarce District parkland and make the park system a model for other major cities.

    I urge you to adopt the rules without any changes and move swiftly to create dog parks throughout the city.


    (Please Remember to SIGN your name)

  • mjbrox: what’s the status on the site at Allison and Arkansas?

  • Since there are no Official Dog Parks in DC, Allison and Arkansas is still not really a dog park. That said many people from DPR think the locks are ridiculous.

    There is group of people who have focused a lot of energy on that park, particulary because of how stupid the whole thing is. Their site is

Comments are closed.