Burlington seeks input on more off-leash dog spots

The city of Burlington’s dog task force wants to hear from owners and their dogs.
Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 5:56 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A Burlington task force wants to hear from residents about proposed off-leash areas for dogs in the city.

The city said there are around 7,300 dogs in Burlington, and for now, there are only a few dog parks, one at Starr Farm, one on the waterfront, and an area on the south end of North Beach. But more could be on the way.

Starr Farm is one of just a few designated parks for dogs in the Burlington area and the only public place they can roam without a leash.

“I would definitely say there isn’t enough of the off-leash spaces,” said Carmen Delaney of Burlington

A survey for Burlington residents asks people if they would like to see off-leash areas at parks in the city, like Roosevelt Park field and Urban Reserve Road, during certain times of the day.

“So you know if you’re afraid of dogs, you can say, ‘You know what, I’m not going to go to the park today.’ But if you need a place to do it, you do it then. Or ‘I want to come at two o’clock with my family and my dog, I’ll make sure my dog’s on leash,’” said Cindi Wight of Burlington Parks, Recreation and Waterfront

Wight oversees the dog task force. She said the locations on the survey suggested for off-leash space are areas where they know people are consistently taking their dogs off-leash anyway.

“Let’s see if we can try to, as a community, come together and say OK, here’s where they can be off-leashed. Here’s where they have to be leashed,” said Wight

Burlingtonians we spoke with say they notice dogs are off-leash every now and again.

“Pretty much every time I go to the park there’s an off-leash dog, so yeah, it would definitely just help,” said Delaney.

“Most of the people I see have a leash with them but not attached to their dogs,” said Ron Pynn of Burlington.

Dog owners we spoke with say they’d like to have more space for their dogs to roam.

“As long as there’s a space for it and everyone knows what’s going on, the more the merrier,” said Jeff Golder of Burlington.

But not everyone would like to see off-leash dogs in the city.

“As one that walks the bike path who has occasionally had a dog come up a little more aggressive than I’d like and yip and nip at me, I’d prefer if they’d stay on leash,” said Pynn.

The survey has over 1,000 responses so far. Wight said she’s seen a split review of responses.

Wight said the survey will close at the end of this month. The dog task force will compile the information and bring what they’ve learned, along with their other work, to the City Council.

The survey can be found on the Burlington Parks and Rec website.