West Seattle dogs, unleashed

Wildlife danger isn’t the only reason not to let your dog run loose on local beaches. Potential penalties are another good one. And the best news is, you do have somewhere to take your dog and let it run free: Westcrest Park. The park steward for the off-leash area, Steve McElhenney, e-mailed us this weekend (with photos taken during sunnier times) and wanted us to get the word out. Steve says, “Off-leash area are created in conjunction with Seattle Parks & Rec and COLA, Citizens for Off-Leash Areas, to offer locations for dogs to run and play off leash … It’s a great little community we have, a great place for the dogs, and a way to meet new people and make new friends.” As with the gathering in the photo below:


There’s even a Yahoo! list for Westcrest users to share dog photos and updates on park events, such as a work party that Steve says is coming up October 18th from 6-8 pm (much like the one in the second photo he shared):


Steve also says Westcrest has a separate “small/shy dog area,” and 98 total acres of trails. Ready to check it out? Here’s the city link again; the parking lot is at 5th and Cloverdale.

17 Replies to "West Seattle dogs, unleashed"

  • dave September 30, 2007 (4:09 pm)

    WestCrest is indeed a great place in WS to take the dogs for a romp. I’ve mostly had great experiences there, but I do find there to be a disproportionate number of UN-NEUTERED, aggressive male dogs there..a little more than I care to deal with.

    And, as with most off-leash parks, wayy to many people who could stand a few hours with Ceaser Milan.

    otherwise..I do love taking the fur-kids there for a frisky romp. The park is well maintained, and the covered human shelters are great!!!!

  • Kayleigh September 30, 2007 (5:57 pm)

    I saw an off-leash dog kill a squirrel at Lincoln Park last year. The dog’s owner just watched.

    Not cool.

  • carraignasplinkeen September 30, 2007 (7:25 pm)

    Even less cool was the man who let his dog off leash on Alki playfield and the dog chased my small kid down and then acted indignant when I told him he wasn’t allowed to have his dog on school grounds or in any off leash area.
    Love dogs (most anyway), but some (most?) owners leave a lot to be desired.

  • Bill B October 1, 2007 (7:36 am)

    Westcrest is great! Not sure what my dog (Walter) would do without it. With very few exceptions, we have always had good experiences there. One thing that makes me crazy is that people steal the “Chuck-it” ball throwers, the water dishes have even been stolen before… People can be lame (especially the guy at Lincoln Park who had a Chuck-it labeled “Westcrest, Please don’t steal” and told he me found it there as he was getting in his truck).

  • k October 1, 2007 (9:17 am)

    Steve is wonderful! He really takes care of Westcrest. Our hound loves it there. Just be careful when you park out there. Lock your car and don’t leave any valuables in it. People are breaking into cars while you enjoy the park. Keep on the look out for each other and have fun!

  • old timer October 1, 2007 (10:42 am)

    Let’s face it, most dog owners are not inclined to go all the way to Westcrest on a regular basis. Just look at any public space just after sunset to see all the dogs running free.

    Of course, dogs are sacred in this town.
    Calling anyone out on their dog’s behavior is a slam at the owner’s religion, so….

    You know the rest, outrage to follow…

  • Dawson October 1, 2007 (12:30 pm)

    Hey, my dog’s religion is judeo-christian-agnostic. She’d get baptized but is afraid of the water.

  • todd October 1, 2007 (12:33 pm)

    Amen old timer.

  • Dis October 1, 2007 (4:01 pm)

    hey, have some compassion. Dogs are human too.

  • The Velvet Bulldog October 1, 2007 (5:14 pm)

    Dogs are typically (exceptions granted) as good as their owners. Unfortunately, I live next to some dog owners who think it’s GREAT to let their dog run offleash, chase my cat through my garden and take a dump in my yard. That’s usually followed up by a “Good Girl!” Can’t blame the dog…

  • Bill October 2, 2007 (10:11 am)

    We never let our dog off-leash (unless at a dog park) but I do find it interesting that it’s ok to let cats: run free, poop in peoples yards (even climb fences to do so), chase squirrels/birds, walk on (in) your newly washed car, dig in flower beds, etc. And if you voice any displeasure to the owner you are an a**.

  • WSB October 2, 2007 (10:29 am)

    We are lifelong cat people but have never ever ever let them out to roam free. It’s not just wrong to let them do everything Bill mentioned – it’s also dangerous, with threats from cars to coyotes. Anyone who has a cat and thinks there’s something wrong with keeping them indoors can check out more about why that’s not so, at sites like this. As for dogs, we have but one request: We wish the owners of unleashed dogs who see people (kids and/or grownups) flinch when said dogs charge them, would subsequently say something more apologetic than “oh don’t worry, he’s friendly.” And that’s our pet soapbox for the day.

  • k October 2, 2007 (8:00 pm)

    Bill- I’m with you. We have a neighborhood cat who continues to poop in our yard and has eaten two batches of baby birds. Wrong! It’s not fair. It is on our fence, roof, cars and even under our cars most mornings. Not sure why someone would own a cat that is never home???

  • G. Williams October 3, 2007 (8:53 am)

    I see the point about cats (mine is indoor-only), but good luck keeping a cat in a fenced yard. They are consummate escape artists. I know some dogs are too, but I think the only way you could keep a cat contained would be with some sort of hutch, and even then keep a close eye on him.

    The other thing is that in West Seattle, at least in the part that I live in, there are a LOT of feral cats that don’t belong to anyone. (Insert “please spay/neuter your cat” rant here, because that’s the origin of a lot of those feral cats.) Some can be adopted; a friend of mine was doing this for awhile with a colony near her house. But a lot of them don’t make good pets, any more than any other wild animal would.

    k, people don’t own cats. Cats own people. ;)

  • grr October 9, 2007 (4:49 pm)

    yeah g. the whole ‘feral cat’ thing is just bizzare.

    I really do appreciate the work the Feral Cat people do in capturing these cats and giving them a free spay/neuter, but, TO ME..turning the cat BACK loose on the streets to run wild, trash peoples yards and property, to fend for itself against cars, other animals, and having to hunt for food is a worse fate.

    Sure…there are some random ‘colonies’ of ferals around that get taken care of..but, gee……I wonder what OTHER animals are attracted to the food?? Racoons…RATS…you name it.

    We took care of one feral cat for a few years that lived in the woods behind the house…we put a dish of food out when we saw it. It waited till we were out of site, then came and scarfed it. We were even able to give it some medicine from time to time over the years in its food (worm stuff, antibiotics to help heal some obvious fight wounds..etc..)

    when it was time for him to pass, he didn’t just go run off into the woods…we found him laying next to his empty food bowl under the tree one morning..so we buried him there.

  • G. Williams October 18, 2007 (1:17 pm)

    It’s a tough call, grr. The other option is to take them to a shelter, but animal shelters are overcrowded and if the animals aren’t adopted then they’re either there until they die or else euthanized. One could argue that that’s a better fate than getting hit by a car or killed by a coyote. I don’t know. My friend who was doing the feral rescue couldn’t take them all in herself; there were half a dozen adults and one of the females wasn’t spayed, and had kittens. (On top of which, she’s allergic to cats! Every time she handled one she risked a pretty severe allergic reaction. That’s dedication.) The good news is that some of them were able to be adopted out, and reportedly made wonderful pets. They knew how good they had it!

  • jodi October 1, 2008 (9:12 am)

    My dog (rescued 3 years ago as a puppy) is often mistaken for a pit bull. And, by saying that, what I mean is – people see her and often react with fear or apprehension because they mistake her for the media-portrayed “killer” dogs. (Personally, I love Pits – some of our best doggie buddies are Pit Bulls). But, she’s actually an Irish Staffordshire and just about the sweetest thing in the world. That being said – because of how people treat HER, I am very mindful of how she behaves in public. She is, no denying it, a dog. She responds and reacts to the *energy* people send to her. Fear breeds fear – aggression breeds defensiveness – respect breeds respect – goofy love breeds goofy love.

    We used to go to Westcrest on a regular basis (2-3 times a week). However, because some owners do not MANAGE their pets, she was attacked more than once by other dogs – attacks which she DID not provoke – attacks that have left scars – attacks that occurred while the owners of the dogs that initiated the attack were on the other side of the park, or standing to the side watching it with indifference (or worse, screaming in fear, which escallates their dog’s attack).

    My dog is not allowed to be aggressive under ANY circumstances – she can defend herself, of course – but if dog owner’s act responsibly, this should rarely happen. The last incident occurred when a woman’s dog came from across the park and jumped my dog while she was happily playing with one of her buddies. Because of this incident, I no longer take her to that park when there are large groups of dogs there. Because I no longer have confidence in the safety of that environment – I am no longer confident that the other dog owners will act responsibly and actually WATCH their dogs.

    Now we go often down to Lincoln Park where we walk and play ON LEASH. I have a 50 ft lead I take when we play catch and she loves the play time. But it’s getting frustrating. We constantly have to move – or change our directions while walking – because of the INCREASING number of dogs and dog-owners who are coming to the park and not leashing their dogs. Leash laws are the LAW! (as is picking up your dog’s poop – which people are becoming equally lazy about – but it’s probably because their dogs are running around un-monitored).

    If the off leash parks aren’t convenient for you – then work with the city to create more parks. If you choose to come to a public park with your dog, respect the laws and respect the other park participants. And let me clarify – my personal “issue” isn’t with well-behaved fast-responding dogs, it’s with the owners whose dogs wander and don’t respond to commands. And since you can’t and shouldn’t discriminate – it comes back to *respect the law* and others around you.

    If West Seattle actually fined people violating their leash laws more consistently, let’s face it – they could easily fund more off leash parks. I counted @ 12 dogs off leash there just last night. Or, even better, let’s fund educating the public on some basic dog management techniques – like *basic pack mentality, *dog park/public etiquette, *how to properly correct poor dog park behavior, AND better dog park maintenance. Thus far, Westcrest is maintained by the city and a very lovely man and his basset hounds, but with the increase in usage, (growing west seattle population) there’s a huge need for increased maintenance and improvement. This will only benefit us as a community in the future.

    Please respect those who respect you and your dog. Monitor and correct your dog’s inappropriate public behavior. And let’s find ways to improve dog life in West Seattle. There’s a huge number of us here now, and only more that will be here in the near future.

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