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We know you love bringing your dog with you to enjoy recreation in our parks. In response to public demand, AIPRD has opened access to leashed dogs in many of our parks:
Aside from the dog park, we ask that your dogs remain leashed at all times while in our parks. Other park visitors and/or their dogs might not have the same discipline or love of meeting new friends as your dog. Please help us prevent unintentional incidents by being a good neighbor and keeping your pet under your physical control. Please read the detailed rules in Section 11 before bringing your dogs.
See this section for definitions and details.
We know it's disappointing to not be able to take your pets everywhere, but we ask that you please respect the park rules. Below are a few reasons we have restricted dog access to some parks.
Each of the parks listed are critical ecosystems, some because of salmon restoration endeavors. All offer a sanctuary to diverse wildlife and AIPRD has made the decision to limit access as part of the protection of those ecosystems. Read more on how much impact dogs can have on wildlife.
Particularly in the case of Lowell Johnson Park, it's a health concern to combine human water recreation with the needs of dogs when nature calls. Even when conscientious humans pick up dog waste, there are still instances of dog urination that have caused issues.
No matter how much we dog lovers adore our family members, the simple fact is that there are neighbors who are not comfortable with dogs. We have worked to create a park system that accommodates the needs of a wide variety of patrons, and that means offering some dog-free spaces as well.
In compliance with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), AIPRD does allow service dogs on all trails.
A service dog is defined as a dog specifically trained to perform a certain task for the handler related to their disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are NOT considered service dogs under ADA or Washington state law. From the ADA website:
We ask that our park visitors please honor the equity afforded by ADA - both by offering service dogs and their handlers privacy about their disability, and by not exercising this exception under false pretenses.
To read more about what does and doesn't qualify as a service dog, visit the ADA Service Animals FAQ page.
As managers of natural resources and recreation, Anderson Island Park & Recreation District has a responsibility to balance public access with land and ecosystem conservation. So we did some research to answer the question:
Portland Metro Parks published a paper in 2016 showing their findings from analyzing and assessing available research on the topic. You can read their full paper here, but here is the summary:
While different species have different thresholds of tolerance, a good rule of thumb is that when a person brings their leashed dog with them on a hike, they double the radius of their wildlife impact, and if the dog is off-leash, it doubles again.
In one of our two largest parks - Andy's Marine Park - people on our trails impact about 8.5% of the park's 81-acre wildlife habitat, based on conservative field research. When leashed dogs following all the rules are brought along, that doubles to 17% of the park. If that dog is off-leash, field research has shown impact can double again to 34%.
It's important to state that humans DO have an impact on wildlife habitats, and you can learn how to be a good steward in our parks. But that impact widens with dogs for a number of reasons.
As dogs move through an area, they leave behind scents that indicate a predator’s presence, which discourages animals from entering the area. Even walking a well-behaved, leashed dog on the trails in our more eco-sensitive parks has a wide impact on our wildlife.
Here are the impact types listed in the Portland Metro report:
The presence of dogs causes wildlife to move away, temporarily or permanently reducing the amount of available habitat in which to feed, breed and rest. Animals become less active during the day to avoid dog interactions. Furthermore, the scent of dogs repels wildlife and the effects remain after the dogs are gone.
Animals are alarmed and cease their routine activities. This increases the amount of energy they use, while simultaneously reducing their opportunities to feed. Repeated stress causes long-term impacts on wildlife including reduced reproduction and growth, suppressed immune system and increased vulnerability to disease and parasites.
Dogs transmit diseases (such as canine distemper and rabies) to and from wildlife. Loose dogs kill wildlife.
Dog waste pollutes water and transmits harmful parasites and diseases to people. (This is relevant to Lowell Johnson Park's dog restriction)
Please adhere to our park rules and only bring your four-legged companions to our dog-friendly parks!
If you'd like to read more details on the studies behind these estimates and assessments, we encourage you to read the whole report:
Compiled by Lori Hennings, Metro Parks and Nature, April 2016