Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Glimpse at the Dog Run at Wisner Playground

This month at Petit Pet Care we're taking a run at New Orleans' dog parks. The city currently has three officially sanctioned places for pet parents to let their dogs off the leash to run and play. Two are free to use and the third requires the purchase of an annual permit. Over the next several months we'll discuss the features of each.

Prior to 2010 the city had acquired a number of unofficial spaces from levee banks to public playgrounds, and even empty lots, where people had been bringing their dogs and letting them off the leash to get some exercise. Most of these places, with the exception of the playgrounds, were not fenced in and lacked amenities such as fountains, shade areas, or restrooms, and often their use was the source of much controversy within the surrounding neighborhoods.

Even in places that were fenced in, dogs (and some of their owners) were not particularly welcome for a variety of reasons from trampled playing fields to excess pet waste not being picked up by negligent owners. In 2012 the City of New Orleans announced plans to create as many as twenty official dog parks across the area. One year later, that plan was cut back to ten parks. So far, two have been realized: the dog runs at Wisner Playground uptown, and at Crescent Park in the Bywater, It's the former we are focusing on here.

Located at 4876 Laurel St., the Wisner Dog Run opened in December of 2013, and was the first official place in the city where pet parents could legally let dogs of the leash without paying for an annual permit in order to use it. Prior to this time, the park had been one of those unofficial sites that occasionally was the source of controversy. Fortunately, the park was already slated for renovations, and since it was already being used as an unofficial dog park, area residents were able to successfully advocate for a separate area for dogs to be included in the park upgrades.

With the creation of the 8.500 square foot dog run, (technically, since the area is less than an acre, it isn't considered an actual dog park) the park now has a separate area between the playground and sports fields where does can legally be let off the leash to roam and romp and do their business.

Within that space are benches where pet parents can sit, drinking fountains for dogs and humans, and even complimentary pet waste bags.

Unfortunately, there are no separate areas for large and small dogs at the popular Uptown spot, and while there are some trees planted in the area, there is no real shade, as of 2015. The run isn't well maintained and tends to get muddy when it rains. There are also no restrooms, and children under eight years old are prohibited from the run area.

Puppies under six months are also prohibited, and all dogs visiting the park must be spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and wearing collars and tags. There is a limit of three dogs per household visiting the run at one time. No food, (including human) treats or chews allowed, or glass containers, and no smoking, booze, drugs, or firearms as well. Park hours are 6 am to 10 pm. 

UPDATE: Fall 2016
NORDC has stepped up the maintenance of the dog run this year.  Holes have been filled in and crushed rock was added in areas where water pooled, so it doesn't get muddy after it rains. 

Helpful links:

Wisner Dog Park - Facebook

Friends of Wisner Park

NORD/Wisner Playground and Dog Run

More on the Wisner Dog Run:

Uptown Gets First Off-Leash Dog Run

New Orleans' Dog Park Plan

Wisner Dog Run opens signalling new day for dog parks in New Orleans

Important note: Always remember, unless a park is a designated official dog park, leash laws still apply!

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