dogpark

The construction fencing showed up in March, and now, at long last, the construction of a new dog park at Lansburgh Park is getting underway. The dog park, which will be located next to the Lansburgh Park basketball courts, will provide 10,000 square feet of fenced-in play area for the canine residents of Southwest and the nearby Southeast communities. Construction is expected to take approximately six weeks.

In an April 11 email, Paws of Southwest leader Bridget Gonzales announced the good news to ANC6D and the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly (SWNA), which is the Paws of Southwest fiscal agent.

“Thank you so much for your support of our work over the past three years,” Ms. Gonzales wrote. “We have so much to be excited about as Lansburgh Park continues to experience a rebirth.” The Paws of Southwest is a volunteer organization of Southwest community dog owners who have been working since April 2011 to establish an off-leash dog park in the quadrant, currently the only quadrant in DC with no such facility.

Since then, the Paws of Southwest have been working on not only the dog park project but also advocating responsible dog ownership through various events in Southwest, collaborating with the Southwest Duckpond group, the Lansburgh Park Community Garden Group, and others.

“It’s taken a long time, with a lot of stops and starts,” said Jessica Seepersad, who started the dog park effort three years ago. “But it’s really amazing to see all our work – the meetings and events, fundraisers, and phone calls – finally pay off. I think we’ll have a dog park that everyone can be proud of, and we’ve made a lot of friends and created a stronger sense of community in the process.”

The new dog park will comprise 8,000 square feet for large dogs and a separate 2,000-square-foot area for small dogs and puppies. Both areas will have watering stations. The surface will be “decomposed granite,” a surface type that is relatively easy on dogs’ paws as well as easy to maintain and keep clean. A shed for tools, signage, hoses, and other basics will be provided in the initial design; the Paws of Southwest will be responsible for funding any additional amenities. Dog owners will be responsible for cleaning up after their own pets, but waste receptacles at the dog park will be emptied regularly by the DC Department of Public Works (DPW).

Dog parks can add a lot to a community, bringing people together around their shared interest in dogs. They provide a safe place for dogs to socialize and play, and dogs that are well-exercised are also more likely to be better-behaved while on leash. For the community, having an off-leash dog park helps keep other parks dog-free, or at least keep dogs on-leash. Dog parks help promote responsible dog ownership.

The off-leash dog park at Lansburgh will be open to all dogs that are licensed in the District of Columbia and have obtained the free dog park dog tag. The tag is required in order to ensure that all dogs using the dog park have been properly vaccinated and that their owners understand and agree to the terms of using the dog park. For more information on dog licensing and DC dog park regulations, please see the DC Department of Health website at http://doh.dc.gov/dog-licensing, or call 202-442-5955.

All dog parks in the District require that a local group take responsibility for ongoing cleaning and maintenance of the dog park in cooperation/collaboration with the DC Department of Parks and Recreation. To that end, the Paws of Southwest is actively looking for volunteers who can help with various tasks as well as donors interested in supporting the dog park. To find out how to get involved, email info@pawsofsw.org.

By: Gwyn Jones

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