Why Sept 22 is Critical

September 22 is our last chance to speak publicly to the Seattle Parks and Recreation department to let them know that the draft master plan is unacceptable.

There are many reasons why we should speak against the draft master plan. The main reason is that this draft plan goes against findings that resulted from public surveys regarding the needs of dogs and dog owners in Seattle. In fact, they are using the results against us: 

  • No new Off-leash areas (if the draft plan becomes the Master Plan, you can look forward to the current inadequate parks to be the only way to exercise and socialize dogs for at least five years, likely much longer).
  • Increased fines for off-leash dogs: Think it’s hard to deal with those fines now for exercising your dog at our shared parks? The city plans to make it harder by increasing fines. Likely this would also lead to more enforcement officers as well.
  • They are spending our tax dollars, money that was supposed to be tagged for adding off-leash areas, on ridiculous “upgrades” to our current few dog parks, including (for more than one park): “Install new benches and picnic tables: $11,000-$16,000 per park”.

Absolutely unable to come? Please email Seattle Parks and Recreation here: seattlecola.org/email-campaign.

Planning to come speak? Here are some talking points (we know, we have been in front of them and know what they respond to):


  • Personal stories of how living in an area without an off-leash area has affected you:
    Is it hard for you to get to an off-leash area? Why?
    Is the closest off-leash area sufficient for your dog if you can get to it?
  • Personal stories of getting ticketed for swimming at a non­-dog beach.
    Is your dog a swimmer? Are you able to get to legal water access?
    Is your dog prone to hip dysplasia or other issues that require him/her to be able to swim?
  • Personal stories of getting ticketed for being off­-leash outside of an off-leash area
    How did it make you feel? Using words like angry are less effective than phrases like “it made me feel like a criminal, all because I love my dog and he/she needs to run”.
  • Dog owners are taxpayers too
    We have an abundance of park land  and a desperate need for off-leash areas. We pay equal taxes to everyone else and represent a large percentage of the population, yet are underserved.
  • Why you need an off-leash area for your dog
    What happens when your dog doesn’t get to run?
    How does the affect you personally?
    Is your dog a better citizen when having access to off-leash?


After going to a few meetings and learning more in general, I hope you can take my word that these things are not going to help the cause:

  • DON’T Provide solutions: We all have ideas of how to make it work. I know you want to share these. But, Seattle Parks and Rec is not interested. Using your two minutes to provide your specific solution just divides our cause. Instead, bring it up with Dog SQAD or COLA and allow us/them to come up with research showing how a similar plan worked in another city.
  • DON’T go over your two minutes: We need to come off as a group who will follow the rules and be respectful. We are currently looked at as law breakers, and it will only further the perception if we break more rules.
  • DON’T be rude: It might go without saying, but trust me, it will not be easy when you have people up there talking about us like we are disgusting criminals who let our dogs destroy the parks and leave feces in our tracks. Go ahead and politely dispute these allegations, but if you can’t do it losing your cool, leave it alone.
  • You will be asked not to clap after people talk: So don’t. We can make signs when we arrive and feel free to waive those after a speaker to show your support without taking up more time.
  • Leave your dog at home – this is our chance to speak FOR them.

Did you know?

  • Seattle has 1.5 dogs for every child. This is the highest dog to kid ratio in the country. (Not that we don’t love kids too, and many dog owners are also raising children of all ages, we just need enough play/run space for our furry kids too)
  • Seattle has over 150,000 dogs… but this is the same figure that has been used since the mid 90’s!
  • Seattle has less than 30 acres of off-­leash land – and nearly 6,000 acres of park land.
  • Queen Anne has a mere .1 acre dog park – and about 40 acres of park space available.
  • Seattle has 14 off-­leash areas (off-leash areas) – and nearly 450 parks for a variety of activities.
  • Each dog park has a park Steward, appointed by COLA, who recruits volunteers to maintain the park. Other public parks are actively maintained by the city, using our tax dollars.
  • Dog parks were unfunded by the city for almost 20 years. 2015 was the first time off-leash areas got money. The money was used to research for the People, Dogs, and Parks plan. And the city is using the results against us.
  • OLAs have only been allocated $104,000 per year through this municipal parks district (MPD) cycle.
  • Assuming only $50/mo is spent on dog food, treats, and other items, Seattle dog owners pay $750,000 monthly, or $8.6 million annually in sales tax alone.
  • Seattle only has 145 feet of shoreline for dogs (Only at Magnuson Park).
  • Westcrest and Magnuson combined are almost half of the legal off-­leash acres in the city.
  • The national average for a major metropolitan city is 100 acres of off-­leash land.
  • Off-leash areas in Seattle are often created to deter drug use, crime and homeless people. The Seattle Parks and Rec and police know that it is an effective approach to deterring this – that’s how we got Lower Kinnear dog park, one of the least safe parks in Seattle to visit.
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