Pet owners, take note: Seattle Animal Shelter back to full patrol strength in local parks

Pet owners thinking about flouting the laws in city parks might want to think twice. Seattle Animal Shelter says it’s back up to full staff and so, as director Don Jordan puts it, “folks not only in Lincoln Park but around the city will see a more-concerted effort back in the parks again to (encourage) off-leash compliance and compliance with our licensing law.”

We contacted Jordan because of Jeannie‘s post in the WSB Forums, saying she’d heard from an officer who said Lincoln Park is now being patrolled. Concerns about off-leash dogs have been a frequent topic in the forums; we also published a report in March after hearing from a student researcher who’s been studying how off-leash, off-trail dogs have affected park restoration efforts.

Jordan says what’s happened is, “We’re finally back up to full staff” – 13 officers, after two years in which various staffing challenges dropped levels to barely half that, as low as seven officers. (If you’re cited for a violation, here’s the list of fees.)

Even more than off-leash violators, though, he wanted to talk about the importance of licensing. “It’s the right thing to do,” he said, pointing out, repeatedly, that licensing revenue supports SAS, and that it has other benefits. It’s estimated, Jordan said, that only about 30 percent of dogs and 15 percent of cats are licensed here (he cited a formula by the American Veterinary Medicine Association for that), “so we know there’s a great opportunity out there for pet owners to help us out.”

For one – if your pet is lost (a circumstance that touches our work via the WSB Lost/Found Pets page), a license provides a way for you to be found, once they’re found, without putting all your personal contact info on their tags.

Jordan says licenseholders also can contact SAS when they’re going on vacation, for example, to provide information on who’s watching your pet, in case it gets loose. Find out more about pet licensing here – and keep in mind there’s a $125 fine if you’re caught without it.

Back to the staffing; Jordan says SAS has “been able to recruit some really stellar staff members with a tremendous variety of backgrounds … vet technicians to wildlife experts to folks who have worked in large animal veterinary practices, a wide array of officers. Best crew I’ve had in the past 25 years I’ve been here.”

We asked if they’re working beats – is someone permanently assigned to Lincoln Park, for example? He would only say that they schedule in advance, and might have to “modify” when something comes up at the last minute – someone out sick, testifying in court, etc. They’re trying “to spread our efforts out, (especially) among the larger, heavily-used parks. Folks should know we’re here to help – call us if you have problems in the neighborhood. We’ll be deployed as much as we can with the leash law and licensing law this summer,” among other things. The SAS animal-control hotline is 206-386-7387 (that’s 386-PETS).

Image by Wonderlane, published to Flickr, licensed for use via Creative Commons)

61 Replies to "Pet owners, take note: Seattle Animal Shelter back to full patrol strength in local parks"

  • jwright May 6, 2015 (5:55 pm)


  • Mike May 6, 2015 (6:18 pm)

    This is great news. I really hope they will spend some time at the beaches too. So many dogs on city beaches, many off leash. It is a crime and SPD ignores it completely.

  • Amrakx May 6, 2015 (6:27 pm)

    Looking forward to Alki beach patrols, especially on weekends!

  • B May 6, 2015 (6:58 pm)

    Fight the Man – get a cat!

  • Hoss May 6, 2015 (7:08 pm)

    We should leash up some of the people that frequent Lincoln Park as well. On average, I find the dogs to be much better behaved than many of the humans.

  • BMC May 6, 2015 (7:26 pm)

    yay – about time!

  • Mongo May 6, 2015 (7:38 pm)

    As an almost daily user of Lincoln Park, most often with my ON LEASH dog, all I can say is “… it’s about time …” I look forward to the day when I no longer have to deal with those rude and oblivious owners who allow their undisciplined dogs to run around off-leash with absolutely no voice control. Maybe after a few tickets, they’ll decide to make the extra effort to go over to Westcrest, where there’s space reserved for exactly that purpose. Yeah!

  • Miles May 6, 2015 (7:50 pm)

    A crime?? lions and tigers and bears oh my!!!!!!

  • ChefJoe May 6, 2015 (7:51 pm)

    @B, they send people out to visit homes to try to find your unlicensed cat. Hope your cat doesn’t sun in the windows and is good at hiding when there’s a knock on the front door. :-)
    The penalty for repeat offenders of leash laws/not having poop equipment gets pretty steep too.
    $54 1st Offense
    $109 2nd Offense
    $136 3rd Offense
    $162 4th+ Offense

  • Hula May 6, 2015 (7:56 pm)

    Dear Animal Control: please visit Myrtle Reservoir Park at 36th and Myrtle. If you sit there for one hour you will easily cherry pick dog owners to ticket. You might also notice how many owners forget to pick up their poo so there are nice piles here and there. Be careful where you walk. Thanks. A neighbor.

  • flimflam May 6, 2015 (8:00 pm)

    oh man, if only this is true!

    I love animals of all sort, but cannot understand the mentality of folks that stroll blithely by the “no dogs on the beach” signs with their dog(s), or letting their dogs run off leash where prohibited.

    really, just imagine the amount of $$ the city could rake in – almost enough to keep the continuous tax levies at bay, i’d bet.

  • chuck and sally's van man May 6, 2015 (8:43 pm)

    Seriously, what took so long? Here’s hoping that the scofflaws who use Lincoln Park (particularly the friggin’ beach!) as their own private Marymoore Park has about run its course. Oh, how I will be giggling when I see the first offender get nabbed. And then the next… Can’t wait!

  • Kathy May 6, 2015 (8:47 pm)

    There is an online form if you want to recommend other places for them to patrol. I asked them to hang out at Jack Block park in the mornings once in a while.

  • Jeannie May 6, 2015 (8:59 pm)

    THANK YOU, Don Jordan and the rest of the Seattle Animal Shelter team. Be sure to put that phone number on your speed-dial. And thank you for following up on this, WSB!

  • Alki Guy May 6, 2015 (9:05 pm)

    I think the people posting need to get a pet. Yes there are a few people that are bad owners but most pet owners are very conscientious. Sounds like a bunch of bitter people here that could use a little compassion from an animal. Maybe try checking out the adoption services that frequent Petco and other pet stores.

  • ChefJoe May 6, 2015 (9:24 pm)

    Alki Guy, I have compassion for the animal, not so much for the little baggies of poo I’ve found shoved into my junipers (although that’s better than the poo I’ve stepped in on darkened city sidewalks).

  • Out for a walk May 6, 2015 (9:28 pm)

    I walk Lincoln Park often. Usually there is someone with an off lesh dog letting dog run freely on the beach. In my opinion the fines are way too low. The owners, in my opinion, don’t care and are aware of the rules since they are posted on signs along the beach. ….I love animals. I grew up on a farm. We had two wonderful dogs and several cats. But, the dogs should not be on our beaches. I’m tempted to take photos but would not know who to send them to. Let’s hope the increase in staffing will nab these owners and fill the city coffers. A great way for the city to collect more revenue. Fines need to be increased.

  • mike May 6, 2015 (10:03 pm)

    yes, a crime. As in: it says so on the big signs along the beach. If you ignore that, you are a scoff-law. What makes that any different than the speed limit or no parking signs? The marine life that rely upon the beach as habitat should have a right to exist unmolested by dogs. People who walk the beach should be able to do so without stepping in your dogs crap. If you have a pet, good for you. Be responsible. And “Out For A Walk”: the fines ARE way too low. So is the level of enforcement.

  • Pet owner May 6, 2015 (10:16 pm)

    I would love to see them patrol our school grounds also, I see off lease dogs morning and night at Madison Middle School and the small fenced area south of West Seattle High School. These pet owners don’t pick up after their pet most of the time, as the dog is off running while the owner is around 25 yards away. I hardly ever see an owner run across the field to find their pets mess to pick it up.

  • Kimmy May 6, 2015 (11:32 pm)

    Fantastic. As a pet owner who always follows the rules, I cannot wait to watch people get tickets for breaking the law and feel more smug than I already do.

  • Kat May 6, 2015 (11:33 pm)

    I agree that dogs should be leashed, but I also think there’s a major lack of off-leash parks available to pet owners. There needs to be a better balance – just giving people fines but not offering them better/more options is not going to solve this problem.

  • Levi May 7, 2015 (2:04 am)

    Finally! Rake in the money! I live near Lincoln Park but just to avoid the many unpleasant encounters I’ve had with the many dog owners who have their dogs roam freely there, I’ve been walking my dog on the streets instead…

  • Jeannie May 7, 2015 (2:06 am)

    Alki Guy, are you trolling? If you read the comments, you’ll see most of the people do have pets, whom they love dearly and whom they keep on leashes.

  • LBJ May 7, 2015 (5:20 am)

    South Seattle College on a Sunday is also a good place to catch offenders.

  • miws May 7, 2015 (5:29 am)



  • Mike May 7, 2015 (5:53 am)

    I’ve found virtually no dog off leash that was a problem. I have found many dogs on leash that should not be around children at the park, on or off leash. I don’t think the problem is really off leash dogs, but rather people understanding if their dog is socialized enough to be at a park with little kids around or other dogs. I watched two dogs maul each other at Marymoor Park’s off leash park area. The owner of the rottweiler just thought it was normal for dogs to ‘play’ rough.
    Since the public has a bunch of idiots that ruin it for the majority of us sane people, it’s a necessity to have Animal Control policing the parks for off leash dogs. I just hope they also do their main job, controlling nuisance pets that are a danger to everyone and other pets.

  • CandrewB May 7, 2015 (6:16 am)

    Yep, SSC would be a great place for the city to try to further enforce their laws on state property.

  • JoB May 7, 2015 (6:32 am)

    Mike.. you miss the point..
    the law states dogs have to be on a leash..
    making it safe for those with what you call unsocialized dogs to walk their dogs on a leash.
    in this case.. the unleashed dogs you label socialized are nuisance pets.
    or to be more accurate.. their owners are nuisance owners

  • EMD May 7, 2015 (7:05 am)

    How about working together as a community and asking pet owners to pick up after their animals? Don’t need to rely on the government to patrol our parks. I’ve offered bags to people numerous times and they seem to be appreciative. I’m a new dog owner, within the last year, and don’t see the harm in people letting their well-behaved dogs off leash for a game of fetch or a sprint in the early morning or late evening. Many of us don’t have time to load up the car in the morning and drive over to Westcrest before dropping kids at school and heading to work. Nor can most people run as fast as their dogs need to run. Walking a dog is one thing, but all dogs need a good run at least once a day. Thanks for the COLA link!

  • HP loc May 7, 2015 (7:21 am)

    Looking forward to enforcement in Westcrest park which, in its entirety, is not ” the dog park.” Thank you pet owners who respect the leash laws in the P-patch, delicate natural areas, and the yet to be opened(and awesome!) new facilities.

  • T Rex May 7, 2015 (7:24 am)

    I am so glad to hear this! I no longer have dogs but when I did, they were never off leash. And I never took them to an off leash park either.
    Dogs are pack animals and when put into a pack of other dogs, the more aggressive dog can be just that. Aggressive. And that can lead to trouble.
    Not only for the dogs but the humans who may be forced to break up a fight.

    At Lincoln, small children are everywhere and all it takes is one off leash dog to spook a kid, which then spooks the dog and we all know that could end up a bad situation.

    I would also like to go off subject here and remind people to NOT LEAVE THEIR DOGS IN THEIR CAR THIS SUMMER. Just saw someone do it over the weekend at Target and I left her a nice note on her windshield. If it is 60 and the sun is out, it will be close to 80 in the car within an hour. And tinted windows do not help! Be responsible dog owners, if you can’t leave the engine running with the AC on, leave the pup at home.

  • HiThere May 7, 2015 (7:32 am)

    Please make one of your first stops being Riverview park and play field. These people have ZERO EXCUSE being they are in walking distance of the off leash dog park.

  • Jaylaw May 7, 2015 (8:05 am)

    While we’re at it can we ban babies and small children too? Just yesterday I counted 3 diapers rolled up and stuffed behind bushes and 1 on the beach!at Lincoln park! Are you kidding me, there are garbage cans every 100 ft there! Yes there are leash laws and if you break ithem you should get a ticket. But the same should go for lazy parents too- get a ticket for littering and please control your brats on the beach- picking up wildlife and chasing birds is the same as letting a dog interfere with the natural habitat.

    By the way, I was just at Westcrest yesterday and it has to be the filthiest park around. Absolutely disgusting that dog owners let their animals defecate all over the place and never pick it up. I handed out 2 bags to people who just blithely walked on by as their dogs left their business. Worst park. But again, it starts with the people.

  • Juan May 7, 2015 (8:34 am)

    Kids on leash?

  • anonyme May 7, 2015 (8:36 am)

    If it’s too much of a bother to take your dog for a long walk or go to a designated off-leash park, then you shouldn’t have a dog. PERIOD. A dog is a commitment, not a convenience.

    Another thing: not everyone loves dogs. Many are afraid of dogs, others simply choose not to be jumped or drooled on, or otherwise accosted. The fact that you think your dog is “friendly” is beside the point; that’s the last thing some people appreciate, which is their right.

  • datamuse May 7, 2015 (8:45 am)

    How about working together as a community and asking pet owners to pick up after their animals?
    Much of the frustration expressed in this thread is a result of how ineffective that’s been. Seriously, do you really think no one’s tried it?

  • Rick May 7, 2015 (9:27 am)

    After 45 years here, I’ve come to realize that most laws are for “others”.

  • Enviromaven May 7, 2015 (9:28 am)

    I have great respect for Don Jordan and SAC. I have a pit bull who is licensed, well-trained and very closely supervised. I’m tired of people letting their unleashed dogs run up to her when she’s leashed and walking at a close heel by my side. Seriously, people – we love to play, but that’s not the way to do it. Love ’em, train ’em, pick up after them, and follow the laws! @Hoss – I’m right there with ya :)

  • MBC May 7, 2015 (9:51 am)

    Yeah, not everyone loves ball and butt sniffing creatures that jump up and leave poop. Some little kids are allergic to dogs and don’t need to have their faces licked. And who needs a loose Pit Bull (or the breed anyway, but I digress).

  • Fauntlee Phil May 7, 2015 (10:05 am)

    Met 2 officers at Westcrest a few weeks ago where they were checking for pet licenses. Kind, professional, and informational was my experience during my encounter. The officer indicated that don’t often make into the actual off leash area for license checks because they are so busy in the bordering woods citing off leash infractions. Thanks for what you do for the animals SAC, based on some pet owners I’ve encountered, I’m sure the job is not an easy one.

  • john May 7, 2015 (10:16 am)

    Bummer. its a good place for dog training. Can’t really do that at official off-leash parks.

    I’ve rarely had a problem with off-leash dogs that a good kick doesn’t cure.

    Also, we need to get rid of the stupid prohibition of dogs at seattle beaches. There is absolutely no good reason for it.

  • law obeyer May 7, 2015 (10:38 am)

    I agree that fines are too low. Also don’t like finding baggies of sh** in my shrubs.
    I see people saying, here is a good place to patrol and there, etc .. I told SAC a few years ago that ANY park/patch of grass in Seattle is a good place to patrol. They have had the info and pictures I have taken for years. Lets hope now that they are well staffed, this big problem can be abated.

  • Ellen Escarcega May 7, 2015 (11:01 am)

    Hi Everyone, I hear all the frustration in this thread with off-leash dogs. I represent the non-profit that got Seattle the 14 off-leash areas we have now, Citizens for Off-Leash Areas (COLA). If you would like to help get more legal off-leash areas in this city, please contact us at The simple fact is that Portland has 33 dog parks, Vancouver BC has 35 — Seattle has 14 — both cities have far fewer dogs than Seattle, and far greater acreage for legal dog off-leash time. This city needs more legal spaces — the science over the past twenty years has proven that a more balanced dog population makes for a better city for even non-dog owners, as running off-leash creates a more balanced, less aggressive dog. New York CIty went from 40,000 dog bites a year to 4,000 dog bites a year when they opened their wide off-leash program in its parks. I am not advocating for Lincoln Park to go off leash — we are working on getting spaces where it can be done safely and fairly as a fair use of a park. And beyond that, it is a great health benefit to the dog owners of Seattle, who financially support the community centers, pools, kids playgrounds, etc of Seattle, whether or not they have kids. 1 in 4 households in Seattle have a dog, and Seattle’s 25 acres of legal off leash are comprised of 20 acres for four parks, and 5 acres for the other 10 parks. We need more space — without jumping on you, your children, or the native wildlife/plant species. Thanks for reading this far!

  • clayjustsayin May 7, 2015 (11:13 am)

    Some rules are made to be broken. Not a dog owner myself but love to see dogs enjoying themselves in the park.

  • Lil stinker May 7, 2015 (11:30 am)

    It must be nice to live in a world where you can actually get irate about something as trivial as a dog off leash in a park.

  • Sam May 7, 2015 (11:51 am)

    Okay, so a little math:

    There are 140,000 dogs owned in Seattle. Seattle parks have a total of 6,200 acres. 25 acres of which are off-leash areas, which is 0.4% of the park space. For 140,000 dogs! In my experience, dog owners are the people who are using these spaces the most. At Westcrest the dog park is always jammed full and the only people you see elsewhere in the park are dog owners.

    And dog parks, packed as they are, are also often not healthy or safe spaces for the dogs themselves. Overcrowded, with exposure to diseases, animals that need the space but have socialization issues, and of course there are few of them and they are often far away.

    Is it really any wonder that there are people spilling out into other areas everywhere?

    I agree that people ought to follow these laws to protect the other inhabitants of the parks (both human and non), but there’s your fundamental problem.

  • J242 May 7, 2015 (12:22 pm)

    Okay, while I fully support ticketing of offleash issues I do NOT support the ticketing of unlicensed animals. It’s an annual fee that goes to the “general fund” and they claim that licensing your pet provides better tracking info, etc as the main reason. So then why should I get ticketed if I already pay for a monitoring system via having my pets “chip’d”? I trust the profit base 3rd party monitoring systems much more than I do our local official groups when it comes to reporting missing animals. WSB is better at reporting/finding missing animals than the Seattle municipal system!

    I whole-heartedly and vehemently oppose this push to raise funds by the city. It’s just yet another way to try and drum up funds to feed their wasteful spending on nonsense like the tunnel.

  • ChefJoe May 7, 2015 (12:36 pm)

    Sam, is your math intending to illustrate the tragedy of the dog park commons… that the space allocated for dogs is spoiled by, primarily, the few irresponsible dog owners ?
    You’d think there could be a private solution to this… someone who loves dogs so much they open up their yard as a dog playspace for all the neighborhood. Right ?

  • CMT May 7, 2015 (12:58 pm)

    Wow MBC – I have border collie, lab, pit bull mix that is a wonderful, gentle creature. Agree with the rest of your statement but that slam toward pit bulls as a whole was unnecessary.

  • Really Though May 7, 2015 (2:28 pm)

    These dog threads are so hateful. It’s disgusting.

  • datamuse May 7, 2015 (2:59 pm)

    the only people you see elsewhere in the park are dog owners
    I stopped going to Westcrest entirely because I got tired of being chased, snarled at, and in one case attacked.
    The city definitely needs more dog parks. A means to accomplish that has been posted in this thread, more than once.

  • My Dog is Leashed May 7, 2015 (3:23 pm)

    Dogs running off leash kill small wildlife and cause erosion when they run off the trails. I’m glad to see the laws will finally be enforced!

  • G May 7, 2015 (7:14 pm)


    So true, unfortunately. I’ve never lived in a place where so people think they’re a special exception to the law or think they’re off the hook by coming up with some justification. The narcissism here is astounding.

  • fansman May 7, 2015 (7:23 pm)

    Looking forward to seeing all you tight-a$$, whiners on the beach at sunset, with my off leash dogs. They are well behaved, listen, and respond to me on a dime. More then I can say for the majority of your children. In then end it comes down to the parents. Any visit to Target on a Saturday will illustrate this well.

  • Bradley May 7, 2015 (10:29 pm)

    License this….

  • Sam May 8, 2015 (1:48 pm)

    Chefjoe, this is not a tragedy of the commons issue. If there were more places designated for dogs and their owners to go, off-leash areas wouldn’t be so crowded (the cause of most of the problems) and there wouldn’t be so much spillover into regular parks. I don’t see anything mentioned that has to do with irresponsible dog owners. It’s a tragedy of the lack of space for a huge segment of the population.

    I’d argue it’s similar to the issue between bus users and car users. Car users hate that so many people use the roads (i.e. the traffic) but don’t want to support the bus system (which takes car users off the road). “I don’t want to pay for public transport, I never use it”; well, then you’re stuck with more people on the road. Similarly, you want less dogs off leash in leash-required areas then you should support more off-leash areas for them to use. This isn’t an issue of scofflaws disobeying the rules, it’s an issue of the rules not accommodating the needs of the citizenry.

  • KM May 8, 2015 (4:24 pm)

    What is the license fee for kids with allergies? My Staffie is hoping to get some enforcement here on peanut-free zones.

  • HeadsUpWa May 11, 2015 (2:10 am)

    While I support Off-leash controls, I must take exception with one reoccurring statement that is being made by the majority of the posts: that dog poop is a unique problem caused by off-leash dogs. That statement could not be further from the truth. People with leashed dogs are just as guilty as the off-leashed dog. Walk down any neighborhood street in West Seattle and you will see dog poop on lawns and parking strips…Not only that, most off leash dogs (like those in Lincoln Park) do it away from the trail – not neatly beside it. Owners of leashed dogs are not saints, any more than off-leash owners are criminals.
    Perhaps enforcement in parks should be more concentrated on cleaning out the drugs and wanton alcohol use than in chasing after man’s best friend!

  • HeadsUpWa May 11, 2015 (2:40 am)

    …and while I’m at it…

    Not that I’m against dogs being on beaches, but I’m far more concerned about the amount of refuse that is left behind by humans using our local beaches and waterways leaving trash cans overflowing…fire pits laden with bottles, old food, and other trash items…various types of debris left in the sand and occasionally floating to shore. I Don’t hear anyone complaining about the countless “scofflaws” inhabiting and polluting our shores.

    By the way, the West Seattle Blog’s very own home page picture sports a silhouette of various people on the shores of Puget Sound and two dogs! Thr depiction of two dogs on the beach is a violation of the very laws most of the above posts are complaining about. Does it make sense to support this foolishness?
    Just sayin.

    • WSB May 11, 2015 (7:51 am)

      Please note, those dogs are not ON the beach in our longrunning (will be retired in our upcoming overhaul) header photo. The photo was taken at Lowman Beach Park, showing the silhouette of people and pets atop the seawall (note the corner of the tennis-court net) during a sunset ending a day of whale-watching in the area a few years ago. Thanks – TR

  • anonyme May 11, 2015 (9:54 am)

    While I think that more off-leash parks are a great idea, I disagree that they will make a significant impact on the problem. The issue is one of attitude: arrogant self-entitlement. Flaunting of the law is a human flaw not related to canine needs. I think the lack of support for recent petitions for more off-leash areas is a good indication that the lack of such facilities is merely an excuse for bad behavior – and not the real cause.

Sorry, comment time is over.