City Bark Off-Leash Dog Park
Over the past two years we've been taking you virtually to the area's off-leash dog parks. After hurricane Katrina, there was an ambitious plan by city officials to create as many as twenty parks across town; that plan was reduced significantly, but so far only a few have been realized. Of the four Orleans parks we visited, only three were city projects.
Earlier this year Nola.com reported a series of meetings had taken place between NORDC officials and residents in the French Quarter and Irish Channel about developing dog runs in those areas. While a dog run isn't quite a dog park - a park requires an area of at least one acre, having a place in one's own neighborhood to let Rover romp freely, is still highly beneficial - to all residents.
When we started posting about Nola's dog parks, it was with the intent to start with the smaller parks/runs, work our way up to the largest, and then subsequently compare and contrast the features of each. While there are a a handful of other dog parks in the area besides the ones we've covered, they are not in Orleans Parish and therefore out of Petit Pet Care's service area.
Crescent Park Dog Run in Bywater
One concern when taking your animal to the dog park is the size and behavior of other dogs. Even if large breed dogs are friendly they can still intimidate, antagonize, or even injure a smaller breed dog while off-leash. Of course it's helpful if a dog park has a separate area for large and small dogs. One of the advantages of Little Paws, the small, private citizen developed, neighborhood "park" in the upper ninth ward, is that it is only intended for use by small dogs. This advantage doesn't mean anything, however, if you live completely on the other side of town.
Unfortunately, neither the run at Wisner uptown or the one at Crescent Park downtown have a separate area for small dogs. Hopefully this is something that can be addressed as more parks/runs are added across town. Both have rules posted for the runs, but seem to work on an honor system, whereas the key-card-access-only City Bark is diligent in being sure all park rules are observed.
Though located in a very nice, well landscaped, 1.4 mile space, the fenced dog run at Crescent Park only has a couple of benches and no real shade. Also, the run is at one end of the park and the public restrooms are at the other. Woops. It does have bike paths though, an advantage for those who ride with their dogs running alongside them. All the parks offer complimentary pet waste bags and at least one drinking fountain, however Wisner does not have restrooms.
Little Paws small dog park.
It's almost unfair to compare the smaller parks/runs with City Bark, which has plenty of space and lots of trees, as well as shade pavilions. To put it in perspective, a minimum of one acre is required to qualify as a dog park vs a dog run. The fee-based City Bark is almost five acres, naturally it has the best amenities.
Remember that ambitious city plan that had to be scaled back? While the planners' collective eyes may have been larger than the budget, there is also another problem - available land. It seems to make sense to continue adapting existing park/playground spaces to accommodate dogs - on and off-leash. However, every time there's a meeting to discuss giving citizens what they want, the park/run plans are met with opposition.
If you search online for dog parks in New Orleans many web sites list at least five facilities; not all of these are actually in Orleans parish. Some of them, like Markey Park in the Bywater and the levee uptown near audubon were utilized by dog owners, but were never actually sanctioned as off-leash parks. According to Yelp reviews, off-leash dogs are no longer allowed at Markey Park or Cabrini Park in the French Quarter. The reality of the situation is that they never legally were.
The Dog Run at Wisner Park
"The Dog Levee" uptown is not only not a sanctioned off-leash dog park, but it is neither a public park, or an off-leash area for dogs. The city's ordinance clearly states that all dogs must be on a leash at all times unless they are in a fenced off area. That includes dogs at home or walking through their own neighborhoods.
Why is that important? The controversy over dogs parks has escalated to the point of a security detail being hired to enforce the rules at Cabrini park. Rules that residents complain aren't being followed at other facilities across town, which is the main objection to adding dog areas to existing parks.
With only three true "officially sanctioned" off-leash facilities for dogs, the presence or absence of amenities isn't really the issue. The planning commission did vote last year to add a run to Cabrini Park, and they are working on adding an area to Annunciation Park. Until funds are raised for the former and objections are settled for the latter, residents will have to continue to make do with only three public places in Orleans Parish for dogs to safely and legally be off-leash.
So which of the existing three parks/runs is best for you and your BFF? City Bark has the most amenities, hands down. Of course, it requires purchase of a permit, and depending on where you live it may not be the most conveniently located.
Guide to Dog Parks and Runs in the New Orleans Area
Previous dog park posts:
A Glimpse at the Dog Run at Wisner Playground
NOLA Dog Parks Part 2: The Crescent Park Dog Run
Exploring the Upper 9: A Visit to Little Paws Dog Park
Frolic Under the Oaks: New Orleans City Bark