71 county parks win County Commission approval to include dog-friendly areas

Changes will take effect on Jan. 1, 2017

Image courtesy Sarasota County

As Sarasota County staff put it, “Fido and Fluffy have some new hangout spots.”

The Sarasota County Commission on Dec. 13 unanimously approved a resolution designating 71 Sarasota County parks and preserves — in North County and South County — as “dog-friendly.” The designations will take effect on Jan. 1, 2017, the county has announced.

“These are sites where dogs are welcome but must be leashed at all times,” a news release explains.

The Sarasota County Code prohibits dogs, cats and other pets in county-owned parks, but it allows for areas to be specifically designated for activities involving animals such as dogs, the release notes.

The need for additional dog parks and dog-friendly parks was identified in the county’s Parks, Preserves and Recreation Strategic Master Plan, which won County Commission approval earlier this year, the release continues. “The initial sites designated as dog-friendly in 2012 have been popular and are regularly used by park visitors with their dogs,” the release says.

That first group of areas identified in 2012 “included trailhead parks that connect to the Legacy Trail, as well as several neighborhood and community parks and preserves,” a Dec. 13 memo to the County Commission explains.

“Sarasota County parks are for families, and for many of us, our dogs are part of the family,” said Carolyn Brown, director of the county’s Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department, in the release. “We heard very clearly from the public during our master plan process that dog-friendly locations are a priority need for the community, and we’re happy to fill that need.”

The following guidelines will continue to apply in those areas designated as dog-friendly, the release points out:

  • Each dog must be kept on a hand-held leash with a maximum length of 6 feet, and the animal must remain under the physical control of a person at all times.
  • It is the responsibility of each dog owner to bring appropriate pet waste bags and immediately pick up and properly dispose of waste.
  • Dogs are not allowed in playgrounds, athletic fields or other areas not designated for dogs on leash.
  • Dogs must be well behaved at all times.
This is the list of South County parks that will have dog-friendly areas. Image courtesy Sarasota County
This is the list of North County parks that will have dog-friendly areas. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The Dec. 13 memo to the County Commission also pointed out that all dogs must have current license tags and vaccinations.

In addition to dog-friendly parks, Sarasota County operates and maintains five dog (or paw) parks. They are the 17th Street Park, Lakeview Park, Arlington Park, Woodmere Park and South Brohard Beach. “Dog parks are places where dogs can safely be off-leash in a fenced area specifically designed for such use, often with associated amenities,” the release explains.

For more information and a list of the county’s dog-friendly park locations, visit www.scgov.net/parks or call the Sarasota County Contact Center at 861-5000.