3 reasons why city parks have rules for pets and their people

(Image by Michael Hubbard, SAS Customer Service Representative)

Now that spring is here, warm weather is on its way, and parks will get busier. For people who bring their pets, Seattle Parks and Recreation has rules – such as, no pets on beaches or in ponds or streams. But what’s the problem? some wonder, insisting their pets are well-behaved. To answer that question, the Seattle Animal Shelter published this post: “Pets Are Not Allowed – But Why?” explaining three major reasons for rules regarding pets at parks, both on the water and inland. WSB reader Tami saw it this past week and emailed us suggesting that we tell you about it; she explained, “As a one-time beach naturalist with the Seattle Aquarium, this is an issue that concerns me, and I think it would be good to remind everyone WHY pets should respect public park spaces.” P.S. If you’re new in West Seattle, we do have one off-leash dog park, at Westcrest Park – it’s on this map with the city’s other off-leash parks.

43 Replies to "3 reasons why city parks have rules for pets and their people"

  • Kyle March 21, 2021 (11:40 am)

    But when will they reopen the bathrooms?

  • waikikigirl March 21, 2021 (11:50 am)

    RE: Ponds, streams, Puget Sound  and all waterways the water is unsafe for your dogs to drink, think of it this way “if you wouldn’t drink it”  should your pet?

  • Runner March 21, 2021 (11:56 am)

    It’s always amazing to me when walking along Alki beach to see the few folks that seem to think the leash laws don’t apply to them and their pets. 

    • Skeptic March 21, 2021 (3:04 pm)

      I saw two women playing fetch with their black lab mix in the surf.  It was either sick, or likely just drank seawater, because it came out of the water and left a huge puddle of diarrhea right on the sand at the water’s edge.  They only made a token effort to clean it up.  This is only one example of why dogs are not allowed on Alki Beach.  These rules include your dog too.  Really.

    • Pessoa March 21, 2021 (4:09 pm)

      Yes, I’ve noticed this too after moving here – and it’s not just a few, or just in West Seattle.  I was at an Eastside park the other day with signs visibly posted requiring leashes, yet completely ignored by many dog-owners who apparently thought no one was looking. That seems to a primary factor in behavior around here:  Is anyone watching me?  Fear of social shaming is everything in Seattle, not whether something is right or wrong. 

  • JohnW March 21, 2021 (12:21 pm)

    Seattle Animal Shelter is certainly aware that educating dog owners will not make a difference in the widespread abuse of our parks by dog owners.
    Virtually any park in West Seattle now has multiple dog entitled people who feel it is their right to allow dogs off-leash.  
    It’s not just the parks but the beaches where signage abounds listing fines for illegal dog beach and water presence.  
    Without actual enforcement, the problem and threats to our environment and Puget Sound will continue to increase.
    Recently entitled dog owning residents of the new apartments near the Whole Foods have broken the fencing of the proposed new park where the temporary  SFD tents were. 

    Last week I was shocked to see one animal control truck drive the Lincoln Park shoreline.  

    That is the ONLY type of education needed for our growing numbers of irresponsible dog owners.  
    Citations and fines are needed more than ever before.

  • KBota March 21, 2021 (12:37 pm)

    For some who won’t read the whole post:1.  Damage 2.  Sanitation 3. Wildlife It is the law, so keep your dogs off the beaches posted No Dogs.  There are other alternatives for them .

  • wssz March 21, 2021 (1:45 pm)

    JohnW  — re “Last week I was shocked to see one animal control truck drive the Lincoln Park shoreline.”

    I hope you reported what you saw to Seattle Animal Control.  If not be sure to do that. That seems like a pretty serious violation of city code. 

    • T March 21, 2021 (3:23 pm)

      Animal Control is allowed to drive on that path as well as other city vehicles like parks department and SPD etc. the only violation is people having their dogs on the beach, leashed or not. 

    • JohnW March 21, 2021 (3:51 pm)

      “Drive the Lincoln Park shoreline” is not “drive on the Lincoln Park shoreline.”  

      The shoreline of Lincoln Park has a roadway which service vehicles use. 

      Reading is a critical skill.

  • TennisCourtsNoDOGS!! March 21, 2021 (1:50 pm)

    Rules at tennis courts or any courts-Tennis courts are for ONLY tennis!! and not for skateboarding(it will ruin the court surfaces) and not for your dogs!!That what the sign says.Irresponsible dog owners, letting their dogs run on top of the Solace Park

  • KayK March 21, 2021 (1:55 pm)

    Curious about how a dog might harm a tennis court- skateboarding I can understand.

  • WSlite March 21, 2021 (1:55 pm)

    This is ridiculous claiming dogs do all this damage therefore can’t be allowed to run freely in parks. Seattle needs to get more relaxed on allowing dogs to play in open spaces “legally”, it doesn’t make any sense for all the responsible dog owners out there that have dogs on voice command, play fetch with their dogs in a corner area of park not harming anyone, responsibly picking up their dog’s poo every time and/or leashing their dog immediately if they see wildlife nearby, etc. It’s not fair to let the bad pet owners ruin it for everyone (have SAS fine those people that don’t pick up dog’s poo or that let their dogs chase sea lions).And the fact is, stating the obvious here, humans do MUCH more damage to the environment than dogs. Based off those reasons for dogs not being allowed in public spaces, people should be banned from visiting parks and beaches as well. People litter at parks all the time, leaving trash behind and throwing items on the ground. Broken glass found on Alki beach is not unheard of. People take selfies with seals up close and get close to them while their sunbathing/resting on beach. (Side note: Very grateful for Seal Sitters that help reduce these incidents from happening, big THANK YOU!). I’ve seen kids on multiple occasions breaking branches from trees in parks and hanging off of them. Also, banging on equipment in park damaging them. Though in their defense, kids might not know any better because well, their kids being kids and they haven’t learned from parents to take care of public property and treat nature with respect quite yet or just don’t listen to parents possibly. This all doesn’t mean kids, people shouldn’t be allowed in parks.Bottom line for both sides (humans and dogs) it’s all about just being a responsible citizen/park visitor and dog owner. For people that trash the parks or dog owners that don’t pick up poop, fine them. Everyone should be allowed to play in public spaces, human or dog – just be responsible about it, clean up and respect nature and wildlife.

    • WSlite March 21, 2021 (2:07 pm)

      Oh, I forgot to mention in my comment above regarding humans damaging environment, I’ve also seen leftover tire impressions from people driving vehicles in the grass of our local park. Also, witnessed a person driving truck doing 360s in grassy park during our recent snowfall. And graffiti can be seen in many parks as well. The list goes on. Humans do more damage to parks than dogs, period.

      • JohnW March 21, 2021 (6:38 pm)

        WSLITE may believe that dogs have the same rights as people and therefor be allowed everywhere people are but such belief is wildly irrational and lawless. 

        Of course actual people do the most damage to our parks through using the parks as they were designed and designated.  

        Personally, I have been ‘damaging’ Lincoln Park since the 1950s when there were few if any dogs present.  
        The dramatic increase in dog scofflaws is as evident to long term Seattleites as the homeless crisis.  

        WSLITE posts a litany of entitlements that should embarrass responsible dog owners while making no mention of the designated, and safe, dog parks available.   

        WSLITE and other dog scofflaws are insensitive to religious beliefs regarding dogs, something rarely mentioned.

    • Herehere March 21, 2021 (6:22 pm)

      100% agree. People get so weird about dogs, but they are a welcome part of our active community. There are destructive dogs and there are destructive people. I don’t believe that they are the rule.I miss days with my dog out on the sound, leashed, leaving wildlife alone, cleaning up after ourselves. He’s passed on now, but relax people. 

  • Beepee March 21, 2021 (1:59 pm)

    It appears to me Hiawatha field is now an undisclosed off leash park

    • wsperson March 21, 2021 (3:09 pm)

      Madison field too.

    • Frog March 21, 2021 (3:19 pm)

      Also Alki playfield has off-leash dogs almost every daylight hour, and enough poop that it’s hazardous for kids.  Ditto Madison MS field.  All your fields are belong to us woof woof.

  • daisymay March 21, 2021 (2:00 pm)

    Please keep your dogs off of the city tennis courts too! Some dog owners let their dogs run off-leash on the tennis courts and ignore the “tennis courts are for tennis play only” signs.  These courts usually only get cleaned by the Parks Department  once a year and the muddy dog paws add to the dirt buildup, not to mention the occasional dog poop that the pet owner has (unsuccessfully) tried to clean up. :(

  • flimflam March 21, 2021 (3:03 pm)

    i’m sure the “rules aren’t for me” folks will have their own little list of why they don’t worry themselves about following them and being a good neighbor/citizen.

    • WS Walker March 21, 2021 (4:13 pm)

      But wait – ‘My dog is a good dog!” – until it isn’t and attacks a stranger minding their own business. This is such a tiresome scenario at Lincoln Park in particular. And it you ask someone to leash their dog, often you risk an indignation confrontation. Leash your pet, please!

  • T March 21, 2021 (3:21 pm)

    I have tracked the problem for the last 10 years. Let’s hope education works but I agree with others that what we need is more enforcement (tickets). Dogs on Alki or Hiawatha or any park/green space is not a new problem.

  • Question Authority March 21, 2021 (3:28 pm)

    For those who use the West Seattle Water Reservoir lid as a dog park are the epitome of lazy, the dog park is literally next door and not above a drinking water source.

  • Texas Tom March 21, 2021 (3:30 pm)

    If you think a rule doesn’t apply to you, you are probably the reason that rule exists.

    • KBear March 21, 2021 (8:22 pm)

      BINGO! And if there’s any truth to the notion that dogs aren’t causing much damage to the beaches, it’s because responsible dog owners aren’t letting their dogs run on the beaches. 

    • anonyme March 22, 2021 (7:52 am)

      Thank you, Texas Tom, for your succinct comment.  A dog’s behavior is reflective of the human who owns it, and therein lies the problem.

  • KT March 21, 2021 (3:41 pm)

    So frustrating to run into people at parks with their dogs offleash. Every day occurrence at Lincoln Park.

  • Over It March 21, 2021 (3:52 pm)

    Rules for pets and people exist outside of parks too!  Even if your dog is on a leash, they shouldn’t be in the store with you unless they are a bona fide service animal.  Your emotional support lobster isn’t a bona fide service animal without paperwork and trying to pass off all of your pets as such just because they make you happy is annoying.  If you do find yourself in the aisle of Easy Street with five dogs on leashes and another shopper asks your pardon to squeeze by while they browse, the dirty look is not necessary.  The store is made for people buying records, not as a recreation area for your dog-walking business.

    • Sandal91 March 21, 2021 (4:56 pm)

      My son has allergy induced asthma and is allergic to dogs.  Keep them out of stores (please) and keep them on the leash (please). 

    • AJP March 21, 2021 (9:01 pm)

      Sorry, but there is no paperwork for service animals. This is a common misconception. There is no certification process or regulatory body for registering service animals. Anyone that tells you otherwise is lying and trying to get money or intimidate someone. Service lobsters are actually allowed in Seattle and King county, which have a broader interpretation of what a service animal is (as opposed to federal law which says it’s only dogs and miniature horses).  In Seattle and King Co, ANY animal can be a service animal, and “comfort” is an acceptable reason to have one. They can be kicked out of establishments for misbehaving though. Pooping, peeing, barking, biting, etc.

      • 2 Much Whine March 23, 2021 (10:26 am)

        It is very frustrating when I have to muzzle my service lobster because it barked at someone.  If it happens again, into the pot he goes.  I’ll miss my dear lobster friend but drawn butter and lemon await with some toasty sourdough bread. 

  • flimflam March 21, 2021 (4:57 pm)

    it seems that “the budget” is always the answer as to why there isn’t more real enforcement – it seems that one or two enforcement officers would easily be paid for by issuing citations.

  • Responsible dog owners do exist March 21, 2021 (5:03 pm)

    Responsible dog owners here–our dog always on leash, we pick up, and give “business bags” to owners who have forgotten theirs. Do note that dogs off leash are a problem for dogs on leash, too. We get attitude too. I no longer say “put your dog on a leash” — I say “get your dog under control” since it clearly is not.  But before you all think you’ve taken the high road here…Hey humans, how about YOUR disgusting trashing of public spaces? Seen Alki after a busy weekend? It’s obscene and as or more dangerous to wildlife. A reminder from Seattle Parks for humans to clean up after themselves is long overdue!  

  • Crazy March 21, 2021 (5:12 pm)

    I’m amazed that everyone is so “appalled” by selfish dog owners, but at the same time are “appalled” that we want to free our parks of tents.  Which is it?  Too much poop is bad for the children… yet heroin needles can be overlooked.  From my observation, most dog owners are respectful and pick up after themselves, most tent cities are a garbage heap.  I get it when it comes to asking citizens to obey laws and keep our parks safe, I’m just confused that these very people are upset when tents are cleared out… to keep the parks safe.  This narrative has been happening and contradictory.  FYI- I don’t accept that these encampments have no other option… they have been given alternate places to sleep/social help… they just don’t accept it, and the city is allowing this.  So yes- dog owners… leash up, clean up after their bathroom breaks… I’m just pointing out that it’s interesting the public is in such outrage for dog owners “breaking the law”, and we need more Seattle Parks and Rec to cite and fine these folks… and then… wait, we need more hand washing sinks and toilets to give the homeless a place to congregate and overtake our parks that then become useless to our children… they too, are breaking the law.  If we want equality, then it needs to be consistent.  Does a dog owner get a pass if they can’t afford poop bags?  Anyway…

    • anonyme March 22, 2021 (7:44 am)

      Who is the “everyone” that you refer to?  That seems a rather broad statement.  Personally, I think rules are rules, whether in regard to dogs or campers.  But linking the two issues seems rather a stretch.

  • CarDriver March 21, 2021 (5:34 pm)

    Responsible dog owners DO exist. Their dog’s are NOT on the beach or ANY OTHER off limits area. Their dog’s aren’t in grocery stores and they’re ALWAY’s on leash. Most importantly they DON’T say “that guy’s doing something wrong so i can too”

  • steve March 21, 2021 (8:55 pm)

    WestCrest is the only off-leash park? Really? You wouldn’t think so if you went to Madison or Hiawatha.Both parks, while jogging on the track I’ve been tripped by a “Karen’s” off leash animal. No apology. One dog continuously assaulted and jumped on me everytime I went around.  It almost got maced, I was so angry.What a bunch of a-holes. When is someone gonna issue tickets to these idiot owners, and I mean idiots.The sign says NO DOGS.

  • Crazy March 21, 2021 (9:43 pm)

    After reading all these comments- OK, parks are paid for by taxpayers… but businesses?  C’mon… again, there doesn’t have to be equality… I own a business, don’t care if dogs come in… if you do?  We just aren’t a right fit.  In my world (and I have never owned a dog), I find people who are angry about an animal presence, well, kind of weird.  And that is OK.  Don’t come to my establishment.  We are getting too engulfed about equality, when, equality “shouldn’t” exist. It’s like forcing a bakery to make “gluten-free” options.  An ice-cream shop offer “sugar/fat free” options…  Stop the madness and full-heartedly know that we have FREE WILL.  And will be able to choose a business that we want to support.Oh, to bring it back to topic…Dog owners… just leash em’ and pick up their poop.

    • T March 22, 2021 (12:45 am)

      Well as a business you have laws to observe. If it’s against the law to have dogs in your establishment then you are not law abiding and apart of the large problem. Maybe you don’t fall under a pet law though. I definitely try to vote with my dollars but every business I go into doesn’t enforce the dog law and reporting them to the health department is pointless. I agree with your free will statement but if a buyer wants to choose where to spend money based on no dogs being allowed, he/she has little to no options in WS or Seattle in general. Maybe (hopefully) the crack down on airlines will carry over to other private businesses.

  • miws March 22, 2021 (12:18 pm)

    I don’t wear a mask, or remain 6ft physically distant from others out in public because I have this uncanny ability to hold my breath for an infinite amount of time, so will not spread or get COVID, and everyone I encounter should already know that and not be alarmed and just go about their business. ========I drive 35th at 80 MPH because with my driving ability and my car’s superior braking ability, I can come to a totally smooth and safe complete stop within 10 ft, at that speed, should I need to to let a pedestrian cross, or in an emergency, and everyone I encounter should already know that and not be alarmed and just go about their business.  —Mike

    • anonyme March 23, 2021 (7:48 am)

      Mike, you’re hilarious – and spot on!  Amazing how many superbeings we have in our midst.  Just ask them.  Or better yet, intuit their abilities.

    • 2 Much Whine March 23, 2021 (9:39 am)

      I know Mike personally and what he says is true.  He’s being humble, though, as he left off the part about being able to fully control his dog while off-leash solely with his mind.

Sorry, comment time is over.