Pooches in Long Beach now have a choice of four off-leash parks to choose from, and can look forward to two more that are in the works.
The Southern California city recently opened two new dog parks in the downtown area and is planning off-leash spaces in other parts of the city.
Artificial turf isn’t the only thing green at the K-9 Corner at Ninth Street and Pacific Avenue. Solar energy powers the ground lights of this 3,600-square-foot park that features a doggy water fountain, landscaping and a gazebo-like shade shelter, said Phil Hester, director of the Long Beach Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine.
The park serves surrounding apartments and was once a vacant, trash-strewn lot. Members of the North Pine Neighborhood Alliance worked with City Councilman Robert Garcia and other city officials to convert the lot to a canine sanctuary. The city’s Redevelopment Agency funded the $300,000 project.
Rudd added that it’s convenient for nearby residents to not have to drive to an off-leash park. K-9 Corner is only nine blocks from the new dog park at Lincoln Park at Pacific Avenue and Broadway Street. City workers installed fences at Lincoln Park to make separate areas for small and large dogs.
While Rudd welcomes the two new dog parks, he said four parks for a city with about half a million residents still isn’t enough. The city has Dog Park at 5201 East 7th Street and Dog Zone on the Beach at 1 South Granada Ave. Such a large population is bound to have thousands of pup parents, Rudd said. Walks provide exercise for dogs, but off-leash spaces offer socialization.
“There may be 20 to 50 dogs at a dog park – it’s like going to a party or club for a person,” Rudd said. “It’s like going to church and seeing all your friends. They get to do that. They get to be a dog. They don’t have to be an accessory at the end of a leash and told where to go, and which direction to walk next.”
But Rudd still ranks Long Beach as a 10 for dog friendliness. Many magazines ranked Long Beach high for being a dog friendly city; the AKC/ Eukanuba National Championship – dubbed “the planet’s biggest dog show” – is held in the city’s convention center.
Lincoln Park is surrounded by high-rise apartments and condominiums filled with pup parents. Hester said he has seen nearly 50 dogs with their humans at the park every afternoon.
“There’s a lot more people with dogs than we realized,” he said.
City officials are looking at creating dog spaces at Scherer Park and on a site by the Los Angeles River. They want to start construction later this year.
Rudd said the dog-friendly spots draw people from communities that don’t have as many canine facilities. He said people have driven two hours from the desert or valleys for the dog beach. Hester also said the dog parks attract visitors from within and out of town.
“People send me e-mails thanking us for the dog parks,” Hester said. “They write that they have never been to Long Beach before and actually spent the day here. They ate here and walked around the downtown area.”
Rudd urged dog-park advocates to learn which city officials are pet parents and work with them for more off-leash areas.
The city needs Long Beach residents to help them oversee the dog parks. If you live in the area and want to get involved, call the Department of Parks Recreation and Maritime at 562-570-3170 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is your favorite dog park or dog-friendly park? Write your opinion here.
Images from Contra Costa Times and City of Long Beach