More Sarasota County parks designated as dog-friendly as of May 1

County Commission approves list proposed by Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department

A visitor to the Brohard Paw Park in Venice enjoys the Gulf of Mexico. Dogs still are not allowed on most county-operated beaches. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Thanks to a unanimous vote of the Sarasota County Commission, more of the county’s parks and natural areas have been designated dog-friendly, with certain caveats.

In approving their April 26 Consent Agenda of routine business items, the commissioners adopted a resolution that adds 15 locations where dog owners may take their pets. However, the animals must remain “leashed at all times,” a county staff memo said.

One of the “whereas” clauses in the resolution notes that making the new areas available “will contribute to the health and well being of dogs and their owners.”

The change went into effect on May 1.

The only county dog parks where the animals may “safely be off-leash in a fenced area specifically designed for such use” are the 17th Street Park, Bay Street Park, Lakeview Park, Woodmere Park and Brohard Paw Park, the memo pointed out.

The resolution listed 38 parks in North County and 40 in South County. Among them are The Legacy Trail segments, where dog owners already have been taking their pets, as The Sarasota News Leader has observed. Others in North County are Nathan Benderson Park near University Parkway; Phillippi Estate Park on South Tamiami Trail in Sarasota; Red Bug Slough, which is accessible from Beneva Road in Sarasota; and Urfer Family Park in Sarasota.

Urfer Family Park is located at 4012 Honore Ave. in Sarasota. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The following guidelines will be in effect in the dog-friendly areas, the county memo pointed out:

  • All dogs must be kept on a hand-held leash with a maximum extension of 6 feet, and the dogs 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; pet waste must be picked up immediately and disposed of properly.
  • “Dogs must be well-behaved at all times.
  • “Dogs are not allowed in playgrounds, on beaches (with the exception of Brohard Beach Paw Park), fenced athletic fields or other designated play areas, in park buildings, or concession facilities.” Other non-dog-friendly areas may be identified within individual sites.
  • “Pets may not be tied to trees, tables or shelter facilities even when the owners are present.
  • “Enforcement can be enhanced with signage, public education, and citizen patrols.”

Additionally, the memo said, the following requirements are necessary as outlined in the Sarasota County Code of Ordinances:

  • “All dogs must be registered and have current license tags and vaccinations.
  • “Pet owners are required to immediately pick up after their pets and properly dispose of their droppings.
  • “Dogs shall not be permitted to run at large and shall be leashed.”

These are all of the dog-friendly parks in North and South County. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The staff memo further pointed out that, on June 21, 2016, the commissioners sitting at that time adopted the Parks, Preserves and Recreation Strategic Master Plan. Among the priorities identified in that document, the memo continued, was the need for more dog parks and dog-friendly parks.

Then, the April 26 memo said, on Dec. 13, 2016, the County Commission adopted a resolution that expanded the list of designated dog-friendly parks. “The popularity of the dog-friendly parks” and the Master Plan priority “led staff to evaluate the potential to further expand the list of sites with areas available for park visitors to bring their leashed dogs,” the memo added.

3 thoughts on “More Sarasota County parks designated as dog-friendly as of May 1”

  1. I notice that there is no mention of enforcement. I think it’s wonderful that people are able to take their dogs to natural areas and other parks as I love taking my dog’s hiking with me. The problem is many, many people do not follow the rules, don’t clean up after their pets and let them run off leash. Without providing for enforcement this is a bad idea.

    • I totally agree. Many people refuse to follow the rules and ruin it for the rest of us. An occasional amount of oversight is all that is needed, but none is causing a problem.

  2. I think it is a shame that Rothenbach Park is not dog friendly. It has plenty of shade and beautiful paths. And the irony is that it is not because there is no one there to make sure dogs are leashed. Too bad that is of only concern at that location.

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