Tales From The Trails:

Getting a Handle on Off Leash Dogs in Forest Park

Big Dog, Little Dog, Go Dog Go! Some of my favorite P.D. Eastman books revolved around dogs. You may wonder: what do dogs have to do with restoring and protecting Forest Park? Read on and I’ll share why this topic is so important. There are many things we cannot change. Portland will continue to grow. It’s an incredible place to live and many people decide to move here just because of Forest Park. I can’t blame them. Having access to 5,200 acres and 80 miles of trail so close to downtown is pretty amazing.

With more people enjoying Forest Park, the issue of dogs becomes ever more important. I’ll go so far as to say that it’s urgent.

I have a dog. A big German Shepard. And there’s nothing more I’d rather do than take my dog to Forest Park and let him run free. But there is no way I would do that because dogs off leash negatively affect wildlife, impact water quality, can be dangerous and scare others who also want to enjoy the park.

The mere presence of dogs in natural areas impacts native wildlife. But off-leash dogs and dog waste are causing real ecological damage. We are getting more reports of people being bitten in Forest Park. Dogs, whose owners believe are friendly and wouldn’t hurt a fly, are harming people in Forest Park. Whenever I run in the park, I am disheartened that often 8 out of 10 dogs I see are not on leashes and waste bags are left on the trail. Many of the dog owners have a leash in their hand or around their neck and the dog is running free. The leash does no good unless it’s attached to our dog!

Forest Park will only remain the special place it is if all of us agree to follow the rules and laws: Keep dogs on leashes at all times and pick up and properly dispose of waste.

As more of us experience Forest Park and realize all it has to offer, my hope is we will work even harder to take care of this very special and fragile place so that future generations will be able to appreciate it. We must make this commitment. Should we fail, Forest Park will suffer greatly and so will your experience enjoying this amazing jewel.

In the coming year, FPC will be exploring ways we can encourage more people to follow Forest Park rules. We can restore Forest Park and ensure it remains a place where, even as more people use the park, we can all explore this beloved natural area safely.

Thank you for doing your part to keep Forest Park healthy and safe for everyone. 

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Renee and her puppy, Marley




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