Odana School dog park

For the time being, Madison has closed Demetral, McCormick, Odana School and Walnut Grove dog parks. The spring thaw is hard on smaller dog parks such as Odana School, pictured above. 

To protect dog parks from getting too trampled by furry paws during the recent spring thaw, Madison is closing Demetral, McCormick, Odana School and Walnut Grove dog parks until further notice.

Madison Parks public information officer Ann Shea said the four closed parks get more wear and tear than others because they’re smaller. She said reopening them will depend on the weather. Shea also said the Parks Division recognizes there is a deficiency in off-leash dog parks in the city.

"The need for additional off-leash dog parks is evident by not only their heavy use, but also the frequency of folks having their dog on or off-leash in a park where dogs are not permitted," Shea said. 

Madison has eight off-leash dog parks. In Feb. 2017, the city added 14 parks to the existing 12 where dogs are permitted on leashes and on paths. In all other parks, dogs are not allowed at all.

According to a 2016 analysis of Madison dog parks, Districts 3 and 16 on the east side and Districts 11 and 20 on the west side have the greatest number of dog license holders living farther than one mile from an off-leash dog park.

The city is looking to expand the number of off-leash dog parks, possibly adding up to five in the coming years, Shea said.

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There is some talk of adding a dog park on the multi-acre site between the Garver feed mill site and Starkweather Creek on the east side, said Ald. David Ahrens, District 15, on his blog. Shea said any plans for a new dog park would involve a public input process.

Madison is also in the process of creating a $350,000 redesign of Brittingham Dog Park downtown, which could include artificial turf. 

Dog park analysis

The city conducted an analysis of the city's dog park locations to determine areas deficient in off-leash dog parks. 

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Abigail Becker joined The Capital Times in 2016, where she primarily covers city and county government. She previously worked for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and the Wisconsin State Journal.