Welcome Friends and Neighbors!
So how did we get here?
In response to requests over the years for a neighborhood dog park, the Horner Park Advisory Council (“HPAC”) formed a Dog Friendly Area Committee (“DFAC”) to explore the idea of building a dog park in Horner Park. In addition to informal surveys of friends and neighbors, the HPAC conducted a written survey, which was on the Horner Park Advisory Council website for over a year. Those surveys showed overwhelming support for the idea of a dog friendly area in Horner Park. As such, the DFAC began the formal process outlined by the Chicago Park District for developing a Dog Friendly Area (“DFA”) in Horner Park. That process included holding community meetings, conducting usage surveys of the proposed area over the course of a year, and petitioning the surrounding neighborhood for signatures. Over the next year, the DFAC completed over 300 usage surveys and collected over 700 petition signatures. In response, the Chicago Park District approved a .75 acre area in the southwest corner of Horner Park near the intersection of California and Irving Park as suitable for a DFA.
We are grateful to have the support of both Alderman Deb Mell and Alderman Ameya Pawar in this effort, as well as Christy Webber Landscapes and its design team who developed concept drawings to submit to the Park District for approval.
What are the next steps?
The CPD has approved Phase I of the dog park, which consists of a perimeter fence. The fence has been completed and the gates are open! The next steps will be to generate an estimate for Phase II of the park, and then raise the remaining funds. From there, site surveys, construction drawings and permits will have to be obtained before any additional work can begin on landscaping, water features, large and small dog areas, etc.
What is the vision?
The DFAC wants to create the largest “grass” dog park in Chicago, where dogs have plenty of room to run and play off leash safely, and legally. To that end, the DFAC identified an underutilized area at the southwest end of Horner Park as the best location. Currently, the dog park is a .75 acre fully fenced-in area of existing grass. Since Chicago Park District rules do not allow natural grass surfaces in dog parks, it will eventually be surfaced with canine grass, a lead-free artificial turf designed for dogs, as soon as we get the funding. The trees that currently dot the landscape would remain, as the goal is to aesthetically integrate the DFA into the natural beauty of the park. Additional landscaping may be added, but none of the park’s current concrete paths or other amenities would be disturbed. A dog-friendly water fountain would be installed, and other amenities, such as a water feature or agility structures, may be added over time as finances permit.
How much will it cost to build? Who’s going to pay for it?
The Chicago Park District estimate for the development of a DFA is $250,000. The DFAC will have to raise all of the funds needed for this project by asking for contributions from individuals, private and public corporations, community groups and government entities as well as by applying for grants and holding fundraisers. To date, approximately $140,000 has been raised over the course of 6 years and $90,000 remains after the build out of Phase I.
Will any fees be imposed on dog owners to use the dog park?
The Chicago Park District requires a permit (comes in the form of a dog tag) to use any of its DFAs including the Foster/Montrose beach area. The annual cost of the permit is $5 and can be obtained at participating veterinarians. The purpose of the permit is to protect the individuals and dogs using the DFAs by ensuring that all of the dogs visiting the park are properly vaccinated.
Will other areas of the park become off limits to dogs once the dog park is built?
The development of the dog park will not change the parks’ rules, the city’s leash laws, or the city’s enforcement priorities. Owners will have the same choices they now have as to how they and their pets use the park. Please note that the Chicago Park District does not allow dogs on its playgrounds or on its tennis courts. City ordinances also require dogs to be leashed and for owners to pick up after their dogs. Enforcement of these ordinances is the responsibility of Chicago Police; neither the Chicago Park District nor the DFAC can issue tickets.
Who is responsible for cleaning and maintaining the dog park?
The DFAC will have ongoing responsibilities to assist in the maintenance and cleanup of the DFA. Please remember, this is volunteer organization, so we rely on the assistance of those who use the park to help keep it in good shape for all. Dog owners are still responsible for picking up after their pets within the dog park. The first Saturday of every month (from 9-11am) has been designated as clean up day. All are welcome and encouraged to pitch in!
Please bring only appropriate toys and take them with you when you leave. Toys that are left behind may deteriorate to a point where they create a danger to other dogs and smaller toys may be accidentally swallowed by larger dogs. We understand that sometimes people leave toys thinking that they may be fun for other dogs to play with, and while we appreciate the sentiment, we kindly request that you not do that. Also, if you see broken toys or trash in the dog park while you are there, please help out and throw them away. The dog park is truly a community space where we have to rely on one another to keep it clean. Thanks!
Why is the dog park so muddy?
Currently, the dog park consists of a .75 acre fully fenced in area of existing grass within Horner Park. Since Chicago Park District rules do not allow for natural grass as a surface in dog parks, we will be installing canine turf, mulch, pavers and crushed limestone once sufficient funding is obtained. In the mean time, the grassy area is subject to the harsh conditions of Chicago weather and the use of dogs running in the park and tearing up the ground. After heavy rain, areas within the dog park have a tendency to get muddy, especially by the front gate. Park users can help reduce the problem by moving drinking water bowls away from the front area and onto the more grassy areas near the perimeter fence and towards the back half of the park. Additionally, please empty any water bowls over the side of the fence, and not within the DFA, to prevent muddy patches. The natural grass surface is temporary and we are looking forward to installing the canine turf as soon as possible to eliminate this problem.
Why aren’t there any water fountains within the park?
The area that was selected for the confines of the dog park did not contain any existing water fountains. The vision for the park is to add both a drinking fountain (for human and doggo use) as well as a water feature for pupper play during Phase II construction. The drinking fountain will be located in the gated entryway since that is where the water line runs through. It will also allow for accessibility for both large and small dogs together, so that once we construct the small dog zone within the park, they would not have to enter each other’s zone for drinking.
The water feature will be located within the large dog zone, in the circular area in the southwest corner of the park. It will be surfaced with pavers and will be subject to obtaining an approved survey for pipework, drainage, etc. and of course the required funding.
In the meantime, you are welcome to bring in bottled water and drinking bowls. It is not required, but recommended, that you bring in individual water (as opposed to larger jugs) for your own dog, to help reduce the sharing of germs, particularly during flu season. We kindly request that you please be a good park user and dispose of the water bottles/jugs once they are empty. Every week we pick up about a dozen empty water jugs that litter the park. In addition, it is advised that water bowls should be stationed as far away from the entrance gate as possible, to reduce muddiness that occurs because much of the grass has been reduced to just dirt. It is also helpful to empty any water bowls over the side of the fence, and not within the DFA, to prevent muddy patches. Thank you in advance for helping keep the park litter-free and as mud-free as possible.
Why aren’t there any trash cans within the park?
The Chicago Park District will NOT empty any trash bins within the confines of the dog park. Therefore we have tried to position an existing trash bin as close to the gate, on the outside of the fence, as possible. Please be a good park user and remember to dispose of your dog poop bags, empty water jugs, and any other trash you may have in the trash bins.
Please, please pick up after your dog in the dog park. The last thing anyone wants is to step in poop or have your dog roll in another’s excrement. We believe the vast majority of our users are compliant, but because of the large size of the park, sometimes dogs run out of site of their owners and do their business. This tends to mostly occur along the perimeter fence. We kindly ask that you keep an eye on your pup at all times, in order to make sure you are picking up after him/her and also from a safety standpoint. In addition, be a do-gooder and pick up an unclaimed poop if you see it:-)
Unfortunately, we are not funded to provide poop bags to park users, however, we have set up a bag holder at the gated area to house donated bags. Have an extra bag? Please think of leaving it for someone else. Forgot a bag? Please help yourself.
Can I smoke in the park?
The Chicago Park District does not allow smoking on any Chicago Park District property, including this dog park.
Can I bring food into the park?
No. Human food and doggo food are both prohibited. Most dogs are highly food motivated and bringing food into a dog park is just asking for trouble. Dogs will beg, steal and fight over food. This means no feeding dogs or bringing in treats. If you are so inclined, you are welcome to enjoy a private picnic with your leashed dog elsewhere in the park.
Can I bring kiddos to the park?
Children under 12 are not allowed in the DFA without a parent or guardian and younger children must be very closely supervised. This is both for their own safety and that of the dogs. There are many parks and playgrounds in the city exclusively for children, and only a few parks where dogs can come to play with other dogs. We do not recommend bringing small children into to the dog park. You do so at your own risk, and must closely supervise them
What’s up with the broken glass?
At one point in time, the site that is now Horner Park was used as a dumping ground. Anytime the ground within is disturbed (i.e. adding fence posts for our fence) glass and other debris that has not composted gets kicked up to the surface. The Chicago Park District is aware of the situation and is working on cleaning up the surface glass within the dog park and the greater Horner Park as well. The DFAC holds monthly clean-ups on the first Saturday of every month from 9am-11am to help tidy the area, including removing as much glass as possible. In addition, if you want to pitch in while you are using the park, please pick up any that you see and dispose of properly. If we all pitch in a bit, a lot can be accomplished!
Will there be a separate area for small doggos?
Yes! That is our goal and included in Phase II planning. We need additional funding to portion off a part of the existing dog park with fencing to separate the big doggos from the small puppers. In the meantime, please exercise caution with your small dog if they get intimidated by the larger dogs and alternatively if your large dog has a tendency to play too roughly with the smaller dogs.
Are all dogs allowed in the park?
Yes and No. All dog breeds are allowed in the park, everything from Teacup Yorkies, to Pit Bulls, to Mastiffs and everything in between are allowed to enjoy the freedom of running and playing in the park. However, any dog with a known history of aggression or that exhibits dangerous behavior is prohibited from using the park. Please note, that if your perfectly social dog is having an “off” day, be aware of the signals your dog provides and remove him/her and try again another day.
Do dogs need to be neutered or spayed?
No. Intact male and female dogs are allowed to use the park. One exception: female dogs in heat are prohibited from using the park.
Can puppies use the park?
Puppies 4 months and older are allowed to use the park if properly vaccinated. Please keep an extra eye on puppies as they are still learning commands and socialization skills.
How many dogs can I bring to the park?
There is a strict limit of three dogs per adult. It is too difficult to watch over, control and clean up after more than three dogs. Got more than three dogs? Bring a friend to help! Professional dog walkers with more than three dogs are expressly prohibited.
What happens if there is an incident that needs reporting in the park?
Please contact the Chicago Police Department at 911 to report any incidents, aggressive dogs, violation of City ordinances or criminal behavior. Chicago Park District Security can be reached at 312.747.2193. The Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control is in charge of enforcing DFA Rules and Regulations and can be reached at 708.974.6140. For non-emergency reports you can also call 311.
Why should I support the dog park in Horner Park?
We ask for your support in the development of a DFA in Horner Park so that our neighborhood dogs can have a convenient and safe place to exercise, play and socialize legally off leash. A well-exercised dog is a happy dog, and a better neighbor. Many people currently play with their dogs off leash in Chicago parks, tennis courts, and the ADA softball field. Leaving aside that this illegal and one can face stiff fines, it also poses a problem for other park users as well as potential dangers for the off-leash dogs in terms of running into the street, parking lot or the river. Moreover, when the park is crowded there is just no room for off-leash dogs.
We hope that if people have a nice, big, fun place just for dogs, they will choose to use it, thereby reducing the potential for off-leash dogs to come into conflict with runners, bikers, children, sports teams or properly leashed dogs who are also using the park. It is important to be mindful of the fact that not everyone likes dogs; and, indeed, many people are afraid of them. Additionally, while some people may not mind flouting the law and have dogs they can trust to stay out of trouble, some people would appreciate a space where they can do the same activities with their dogs in a law-abiding fashion within the safety of a fenced in arena.
How can I get involved?
If you would like to join the Dog Friendly Area Committee or volunteer to help with one of our events, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also subscribe to our Newsletter at hornerparkdogpark.org or follow us on Facebook Facebook.com/HornerParkDogPark or on Instagram @doggosofhornerpark. Please remember – we are a 100% volunteer-run committee, we need as many hands as possible to continue the funding for the build out and for the upkeep of the park.
How can I make a donation to the dog park?
If you would like to donate online please go to HornerPark.org and click on the “Donate” tab. Choose “Dog Friendly Area” from the menu and follow the instructions. The Horner Park Advisory Council is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization so your contribution will be tax deductible. In addition, we run MANY fundraisers throughout the year including the very popular Doggie Egg Hunt, our annual online auction, Howl-o-Ween event and many more. By participating and contributing to these events, your money is going directly to the future build out of the park.
Please be mindful that we are in the middle of a long process. The information provided here is subject to change in response to comments and concerns from the Park District and/or the community as we move forward. We will do our best to keep you updated.