Are Dog Parks Taking Space from People in Cities?

The number of dog parks in the United States has almost doubled since 2007. Some worry these spaces are not welcoming or could signal gentrification.

1 minute read

August 31, 2017, 11:00 AM PDT

By Casey Brazeal @northandclark

Chicago Dog Park

Page Light Studios / Shutterstock

A trend of toward making public spaces specialized for dogs strikes some as a way to exclude, "'Much like the appearance of yoga studios and trendy restaurants, dog parks are highly visible indicators of change in a city,' said Chuck Wolfe, a Seattle-based lawyer and the founder of Seeing Better Cities Group," Mary Hui writes in The Washington Post.

Hui reports on a space that became a Shaw Dog Park near Washington, D.C.'s Logan Circle. "Before that area was a dog park, it was a canchita — Spanish for a small soccer field — where a largely Latino community would play nightly fast-paced games of four-on-four pickup soccer," Hui writes. One day with no notice or explanation, that field was razed. Some see this as an example of how less politically visible or vocal groups can see their spaces taken from them.

Still dog parks have proven popular and they’re unlikely to lose that popularity any time soon. "Between 2007 and 2016, the number of dog parks across the United States grew by close to 90 percent, and dog parks are the fastest-growing type of park in American cities," Hui reports.

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