The City of Shoreline is located immediately north of Seattle, Washington and is on the shores of Puget Sound. The Shoreline Dog Off-leash Group (ShoreDog) is a non-profit volunteer stewardship group that works under the direction of the City of Shoreline Department of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services (PRCS). ShoreDog is dedicated to establishing and supporting neighborhood dog off-leash areas within the City of Shoreline where well-behaved canine citizens can exercise, play and socialize with other dogs and their people in a clean, safe environment.
By ordinance, the City requires dogs to be on leash in all public parks and open spaces in Shoreline. The vision of an Off-Leash Dog Area Program is to provide a place for dog owners to enjoy leisure activities similar to other recreational activities in Shoreline’s parks and open spaces; provide a place where dog owners can socialize together fostering a sense of community; and to promote socialization and health of dogs, responsible dog ownership and reduced violations of the leash law.
In 2005, a group of Shoreline residents formed ShoreDog, and approached the PRCS Board about locating an area for off-leash dog use in Shoreline. Following a community survey on the issue, PRCS recommended to City Council that funds for an off-leash dog area be included in the Open Space, Parks & Trail Bond Issue. In May 2006, Shoreline voters approved this bond which allocated $150,000.00 to the off-leash project.
A study group, Shoreline Off-Leash Dog Area (OLDA), consisting of eight citizen members and two PRCS Board Members was formed in June 2007 to evaluate potential sites and develop a system-wide approach for off-leash dog areas in Shoreline. OLDA conducted a seventeen month process of research, criteria development, site visits and consideration of 38 potential sites in Shoreline. From that extensive list, fourteen were identified for thorough evaluation as potential pilot sites followed by a screening to six most promising sites. In June 2008, the study group presented their six most promising sites to the public.
On January 26, 2009, the Shoreline City Council approved two pilot sites for off-leash dog areas recommended by the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services (PRCS) Board and the OLDA Study Group. The two recommended sites are at Richmond Beach Saltwater Park and Shoreview Park.
The City of Shoreline and members of ShoreDog worked together to begin preparing for the opening of the Shoreview site in spring 2009. Richmond Beach Salwater Park site will open in fall 2009.
In preparation for the opening at the Shoreview Park site, ShoreDog hosted a work party during which approximately 20 volunteers spent four hours clearing the lot of blackberries, litter, and fallen branches. On April 24, 2009, the City hosted a ‘leash-cutting’ ceremony to mark the official opening of the Shoreview Park site.
ShoreDog prepared for the opening of the Saltwater Park site in November 2009 by hosting a work party to clean the beach of litter and other debris. A second work party was held at the end of the off-leash period to ensure that the beach was clean of dog waste and litter prior to the peak season.
In March 2010, following a successful pilot period, PRCS proposed that both sites be made permanent. The PRCS director praised ShoreDog for their continued volunteer efforts, and used ShoreDog’s example to illustrate the community’s commitment to off-leash areas. City Council voted unanimously to make the two sites permanent features of our park system.
The Shoreview Park site is approximately 2.5 acres and is located in the northeastern corner of the park in an open lot adjacent to Shoreline Community College, at 320 NW Innis Arden Way. Previously used as a parking lot by the College, the lot was available to be immediately readied as a traditional year-round off-leash area. Improvements include fencing, dog waste stations including bag dispensers, rules signs and a portable restroom.
The Saltwater Park site was chosen for seasonal use (November 1 through March 15), and includes 300 feet of beach beginning just south of where the bridge exits onto the sand at Richmond Beach Saltwater Park, 2021 NW 190th Street. This 1.2 acre site offers sandy beaches, water access and nearby restrooms and parking. Since this area is along the beach, Shoreline completed an environmental study.
"Shoreline's quality of life is enriched by the wealth of recreation opportunities our beautiful and abundant parks offer - ball fields, a skate park, tennis courts and playgrounds to name a few. Adding places for dogs to play without leashes builds on that by offering another way for the community to enjoy its parks."
~ Dick Deal, Director of City of Shoreline Department of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services
Shoreline currently has over 3,000 licensed dog owners within the city that benefit from off-leash areas. By providing multiple off-leash sites within the City, there will be places for people to legally recreate with their off-leash dogs and to socialize with other dog owners. Users do not have to be members of ShoreDog in order to visit the park.
In a dense urban setting, off-leash areas provide space for dogs to exercise safely and receive socialization and stimulation, thus promoting healthier dogs in both mind and body. Bringing dogs together in neutral territory can reduce fear and aggression in dogs. Dogs tend to be calmer, bark less, and be less destructive when they are allowed to release pent-up energy.
Richmond Beach OLA Dog owners benefit from the sense of community found at the local off-leash area. During the pilot period, it has been observed that park patrons have formed relationships, increased their awareness of dog behavior, and cooperated with ShoreDOG in park maintenance efforts. ShoreDog encourages this by providing a presence at the site and elsewhere in the City, educating the users on proper off-leash area dog conduct, and kindly reminding users of the importance of dog waste disposal. ShoreDOG also maintains good rapport with the officials of the City and community residents.
With two sites now established as permanent features of the community, ShoreDog is committed to making permanent improvements that will increase enjoyment and safety. ShoreDog is currently exploring options for lighting, ground surface improvement, and running water.
ShoreDOG supports a long term system-wide approach to providing an off-leash dog program for Shoreline in which there is a system of sites that are broadly-distributed, serving different parts of the city. Building a network of off-leash areas encourages neighborhood ownership and participation, lessons the impact to any one site, and promotes local walkability. ShoreDOG is currently spearheading an effort to identify additional parcels within Shoreline that would allow the network of off-leash areas to expand into the east side of the city. Once identified, ShoreDOG will work with PRCS to establish and maintain these sites.