The Sarasota County Commission on Tuesday approved a resolution designating 71 Sarasota County parks and preserves in north and south county as "dog friendly." These are sites where dogs are welcome, but must be leashed at all times.
Designation of sites is necessary as Sarasota County Code prohibits dogs, cats and other pets in county-owned parks but allows for areas to be specifically designated for activities involving animals such as dogs.
The need for additional dog parks and dog-friendly parks was identified in the county's 2016 Parks, Preserves and Recreation Strategic Master Plan. The initial sites designated as dog-friendly in 2012 have been popular and are regularly used by park visitors with their dogs.
"Sarasota County parks are for families, and for many of us, our dogs are part of the family," said Carolyn Brown, director of Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources. "We heard very clearly from the public during our master plan process that dog-friendly locations are a priority need for the community, and we're happy to fill that need."
The following guidelines will continue to apply in those areas designated as dog friendly:
• All dogs must be kept on a hand-held, 6-foot maximum leash, and under the physical control of a person at all times.
• It is the responsibility of each dog owner to bring appropriate pet waste bags and immediately pick up and properly dispose of waste.
• Dogs are not allowed in playgrounds, athletic fields or other areas not designated for dogs on leash.
The dog-friendly designation will take effect Jan. 1, 2017.
In addition to dog-friendly parks, Sarasota County operates and maintains five dog (or paw) parks at 17th Street Park, Lakeview Park, Arlington Park, Woodmere Park and South Brohard Beach. Dog parks are places where dogs can safely be off-leash in a fenced area specifically designed for such use, often with associated amenities.
For more information and a list of the county's dog-friendly park locations, visit www.scgov.net/parks or call the Sarasota County Contact Center at 941-861-5000.