New County Off-Leash Dog Park

 

By Amy Silbernagel McCaffrey

 

“We’re real excited to offer the first pilot project dog park in Spokane County,” says Doug Chase, the director of Spokane County Parks, Recreation and Golf Department. As early as the end of June, Inland Northwest dog owners will be able to take their tail-wagging best friends to an off-leash play area. Chase and his department have been working with the Washington State Department of Transportation to lease the vacant rest area at State Line, I-90 exit 299. Spokane County purchased about 30 acres adjacent to this property, creating approximately 50 acres of future parkland. “It will be a 3.5 acre area within that [rest area] property that we will be proposing to our commissioners for an off-leash dog park,” says Chase. That site was formerly the leashed pet area for interstate travelers.

For the past few years, Chase has been working with Nancy Hill, director of S.C.R.A.P.S.-Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service-to create this proposal, presented to the Board of Spokane County Commissioners on May 30. “I think they’ll be very excited because they’re all dog owners,” says Chase. “We went to them a couple of years ago and there have been individual chats…since the funding is already available, we’re way ahead of the game…Once we get the board’s formal blessing nothing else stands in the way.”

Because of the park’s proximity to I-90 and the Spokane River, new 6-foot fencing (as opposed to the typical 4-foot fencing in most dog parks) will surround the perimeter of the off-leash area. There will also be a transition area, or double entry, where owners can get their dog off or on leash. Because of the established restroom facilities and parking lot, the dog park will be ready for public use much faster than the rest of the proposed park.

“The site is perfect…it’s half wooded and half open, with a nice bowl to throw a Frisbee or ball,” Hill says. “Even though it’s near State Line, we think people will be willing to drive for the opportunity to play with their dogs and others for a few hours…My hope is that this will be one of many sites in the Spokane County area.”

However, the success of this pilot project depends on citizen involvement and a volunteer workforce in the form of a “Friends of the Dog Park” group. Hill cites Seattle’s “Citizens for Off-Leash Areas” (COLA) as an example. This local group will continue fundraising activities, provide periodic clean up of the property, and educate new users to ensure it is a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.

In addition to the county dog park, it’s possible that the City of Spokane could also have its own off-leash area. Taylor Bressler, Park Operations Division Manager, says he’s received many requests for an off-leash dog area, particularly in Manito Park. However, only conservation areas are being considered. “The sure thing is that the Park Board has told me they want to get a dog park built and will offer land for that purpose,” Bressler says. “You can put a dog park together in less than six weeks. It wouldn’t be the complete deal, but it’d be a start.” Currently, there are a few sites under consideration, one being a piece of vacant park property off Highway 195 near Quachlan Golf Course. “I wouldn’t launch anything until a citizen group steps up,” Bressler says, and he’s willing to organize a meeting for citizens to discuss a dog park proposal.

To contact Taylor Bressler at the City of Spokane about a potential dog park please email: tbressler@spokanecity.org.To learn more about joining the County’s proposed Friends of the Dog Park group, contact S.C.R.A.P.S. (509) 477-2532.