On National Puppy Day, Tampa Bay ranks high in dog park rankings

Stitch, a 1-year-old pit-bull mix, is seen during Dog Days in Dade City on Saturday, March 18, 2017. [Times files]
Stitch, a 1-year-old pit-bull mix, is seen during Dog Days in Dade City on Saturday, March 18, 2017. [Times files]
Published March 23, 2018

It's National Puppy Day and one good way to celebrate is to make a few new friends at the Vinoy Dog Park near downtown St. Petersburg. It isn't very difficult; as soon as you open the gate you'll have four or five pups rushing to say hello all at once.

Dog parks can help to bring communities together, states the Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit organization whose mission helps facilitate community parks across the United States.

Since 2009, the organization has been collecting data regarding community access to open, off-leash dog parks in across the country. And this week, it released its national ranking of 100 most populated cities with the best access to dog parks.

Tampa Bay was well represented.

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Tampa ranked No. 9 on the list with 13 city dog parks, beating out cities such as Seattle, New York and Washington, D.C. It has around 3.5 dog parks per every 100,000 residents in the city.

St. Petersburg followed at No. 13, with six dog parks within the city. It has roughly 2.3 dog parks per every 100,000 residents.

Boise was No. 1 with 6.7 dog parks per residents, followed by Portland (5.2)./

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"We've been tracking for the past few years and we've noticed cities have been adding dog parks," said Ali Hiple, program coordinator for the Center of City Park Excellence. "People have been moving to urban cities and people want to have their pets with them, or go out and get a dog. And people have appreciated this amenity."

The organization believes public parks provide a higher quality of life for the people living in urban communities, Hiple said, and it has made it a mission to advocate and work toward having a walkable public park within 10 minutes of every person in the United States.

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Currently, the recently released ranking only provides the number of dog parks and the population of the city. Hiple said they hope to add in quality of dog parks for future rankings.

"The most important thing that goes into creating a good dog park is the community partnerships," Hiple said. "There has to be a good relationship between the city, the community and the organizations actively participating in the maintenance and cleaning of the dog park."

Dog parks are really great for the community, according to Hiple. She said they offer pet owners a place to socialize with their dogs safely and in public.

"Dog parks seem to bring people together in a community in a very unique way," Hiple said.