What are dog parks?
Houston Dog Parks are public parks designated and built specifically for our furry friends to socialize and exercise safely and off-leash. Houston and surrounding areas now boast about 20 fenced, off-leash dog parks with a variety of amenities including swimming ponds, agility equipment, shaded seating and walking trails. Amenities vary by park.
Is the Houston Dog Park Association a volunteer organization?
YES - HDPA is a 501c3 Non Profit run only by volunteers. We have no paid staff. All donations go to support programs and general operating expenses. Donations to HDPA are tax deductible. You can volunteer with us!
How is HDPA supported financially?
What is the history of HDPA?
HDPA was formed in 1998 as a not for profit 501(c)(3) by a few pet lovers in Houston. The purpose then was simply to get a dog park. These volunteers realized that with Houston's massive amounts of dedicated green space, our furry friends needed and deserved a place to play too..."like all the other kids". To explain much further, the formation of the organization included well grounded research on pet behavior and the benefits of dog parks which included recommendations and support letters from top behaviorist and trainers in the country. With that said, it was four years and many petition signatures and meetings/discussions with City and County officials before Houston's first dog park, Millie Bush Bark Park, opened in 2002.
Thanks to Steve Raddick and Harris County Precinct Three, HDPA was actively involved with the designers and engineers of Millie Bush Dog Park. HDPA also recommended the name of the park after our nations presidential pet at the time.
During the organizations formation years, many hours were dedicated to educating Houston and its surrounding communities on the benefits of dog parks. Also, meeting with the experts and community. Although, dog parks were familiar to other cities like Austin and Seattle, the concept was new to Houstonians. We logged many hours with citizens educating and requesting their support. HDPA took the information to the City of Houston and Harris County...which required several meetings -- many did not "get it" in the beginning. Steve Raddick at Harris County "got it", embraced it and ran with it -- and he has been one of dog parks "best friends".
Now, when new parks open, HDPA volunteer groups educate new park users on the rules, benefits and best practices of dog parks. We distribute information and hold meetings within the organization and at the parks.
1. We advocate in the community to promote favor for a dog park by networking, by maintaining a dog park web site and newsletter, and by holding informational meetings, seminars and events.
2. We scout for, investigate, inquire about and recommend potential land for a dog park to City and County officials and Parks Departments.
3. We draw up plans for recommended dog park designs and help the developers adhere to common dog park standards.
4. We hold fund raisers for the benefit of the new and existing dog parks.
5. HDPA can donate money raised to help build dog parks, install additional recreational equipment, improve problems at dog parks, or to acquire land for parks if needed.
6. HDPA helps respond to problems and issues regarding the dog parks all around Houston. We advocate for improvements to problems at dog parks by acting as a liaison to the City and County.
7. HDPA maintains a web site that is a one stop resource for all info related to Houston and surrounding area dog parks, such as New Park Grand Openings and other dog friendly events. We keep a current Google map of all locations and amenities, and we respond to questions, comments and concerns about all the dog parks that come from our web site.
8. We notify the public when new dog parks open, are being approved or promoted, are in construction phase, or when plans for a dog park get canceled - and also when dog parks are closed due to flooding.
9. HDPA holds educational and training events around town to inform the community of dog park advocacy and educate about proper dog park use as well as educate about repsonsible dog ownership.
Once a dog park exists, does the Association still have a role
We advocate for parks when they need attention, we help park users get resolution for their concerns, and we maintain extensive info about each park on the HDPA web site. We know who to contact when a dog park users wants to voice a concern or hold an event.
We also serve as a liaison to publications, vendors and sponsors by serving
as Houston Dog Park educators. HDPA provided photographs to Dog Fancy
magazine for publication when Millie Bush Park won awards in the past.
HDPA has submitted Bill Archer Park for the 2010 Best Dog park in the
US award. HDPA advocated to the City recently to help the new TC Jester
dog park get some needed improvements, HDPA made donations to financially
support those improvements, and HDPA is currently advocating to get a
dog park built in the NW area of Houston. Learn
about our other current programs here.
It looks like some of the dog parks are run by the county and some by the city such as Houston or Bellaire? Does that make a difference in how the park is maintained or in its rules?
YES, the parks designs and amenities will vary depending on who builds them. So far, Precinct 3 has built the most upscale dog parks but not all dog parks get the same attention to detail. Rules vary by park, and some parks do not allow children. See our Rules Page for a complete list of all dog park rules. Although it should not, maintenance may also vary by park due to the governing body. HDPA will help advocate for any dog park that is being neglected. Please contact us if your dog park is being poorly maintained and we will advocate to the governing body for improvement.
What are the most important things for people to know about bringing their dog to a dog park?
Following the rules, they are posted at the entrance. Please read them before entering any dog park. Keeping your eyes on your pet is of utmost importance at all times. Put another way, be your pets' best friend as they are your best friend. If another dog is acting aggressively you should be able to "rescue" your dog before a fight breaks out. We have a full page of Dog Park Etiquette recommendations here...
Help! There is a snake/turtle/frog/fish in the dog park pond!
Where can I get Agility Equipment like that for my dog park?
The actual equipment at Bill Archer was bought from a manufacturer in Germany because when it was built the equipment was not as popular as it is now. However several local people are producing the equipment now for even better prices with the same quality. (None have been used in a Houston Dog Park yet).
Are there any statistics about dog parks you can share with me?
Dog Park Construction Factoids
Millie Bush Bark Park
Location: George Bush Park, Westhiemer/Hwy 6 area
Designed by: Michael Cunningham
Date Dedicated: April 2, 2004
Features: 15 Fenced Acres, 3 swimming ponds, Walking trail, Shade structures, Double-gated entry, Plastic Bag dispensers, Trash Cans, Water fountains, Separate small dog area, fire hydrants, Dog Showers, Benches, Parking for 100 cars
Estimated use: Weekends, 50 dogs per hour, 250 – 300 dogs per day.
Location: Congressman Bill Archer Park, Bearcreek Park on Hwy 6
Designed and Constructed by: Harris County Precinct Three
Date Dedicated: April 2007
Features: 20 fenced Acres, Separate area for small dogs, Agility equipment, 2 bone shaped swimming ponds, Walking trails, Plastic Bag dispensers, Trash Cans, Fire Hydrants, Water fountains, Shade covers and benches, Dog Showers, Parking for 250 cars, Bathrooms
Estimated use: Weekends: 50 dogs per hour, 250 – 300 dogs per day.
Estimated cost $450,000.00
TC Jester Dog Park:
Location: TC Jester Park
Designed and Constructed by: City of Houston
Date Dedicated: April 2010
Features: 1 fenced Acre, Separate area for small dogs, Plastic bag dispensers, Trash cans, Water hose attachment and cement platform for washing/watering dogs, benches
Estimated use: Weekends: 15 dogs per hour, 50 dogs per day.
Estimated cost $150,000.00
EDUCATING ABOUT RESPONSIBLE DOG OWNERSHIP AND ADVOCATING FOR DOG PARKS
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