As spring brings an influx of people and dogs to Overton Park, we’re hearing from more and more park lovers who are saying they’ve stopped coming to the park for one reason: the large number of off-leash dogs. It’s against the law for dogs to be off-leash in a public park, which is why we created Overton Bark in 2012–to give pets a place to run freely without infringing on the safety of other park visitors.
While the Conservancy does not have law enforcement authority over the park, we do want to encourage visitors to follow the law. Soon we’ll be placing some sandwich board signs around the park with the following message. Please feel free to share with friends and gently remind people that the leash law is in place for many reasons.
Why Leash Your Dog?
1. Safety. Some leashed dogs become aggressive when approached by off-leash dogs, leading to confrontation. You may know your dog is docile, but you don’t know how your neighbor’s dog will react. If someone is hurt, the person found liable will almost always be the one who was breaking the law.
2. Comfort. Many park users, including children and seniors, aren’t comfortable being approached by dogs, especially “friendly” ones.
3. Cleanliness. If your dog runs free, it’s less likely that you’re capturing all the waste he’s leaving behind. Dog feces can spread diseases and parasites, and while it is organic, it’s not “good fertilizer.” Dogs consume processed food just like humans; their waste is not a natural or beneficial part of our ecosystem.
4. Conservation. Off-leash dogs in the Old Forest go off-trail and trample delicate habitat for birds, mammals, and insects. They’re also at greater risk of being bitten by snakes that live in the woods but are rarely seen on trails.
We welcome dogs in Overton Park, but unless inside the Overton Bark gates, please keep them leashed!