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Why is Fresno in the Doghouse on Survey of Pooch-Friendly Cities?
Liz-Juarez
By Liz Juarez
Published 3 years ago on
July 10, 2021

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Fresno has landed in the Top 50 of a new list counting down the best dog park cities in the United States. But, digging a little deeper into the survey reveals the news isn’t all “paws-ative.”

According to a report by lawn care website LawnStarter, Fresno ranked No. 36 on the “Best of” list of 97 cities with dog park facilities across the country.

That put Fresno near the middle of the pack overall, with a score of 57.3 based on factors like number of dog parks per 100,000 residents, average dog park quality ratings, and local climate factors.

Not surprisingly, California cities led the survey on the climate metric, with San Diego, Anaheim, San Francisco and Sacramento among the Top 15.  While not “off the chain,” Fresno’s dog friendly climate rating came in at a tail wagging No. 18 on the list.

But the city’s dog park quality rank earned it a bit of a scolding, with Fresno squeaking by only one spot from the bottom at No. 96 — just ahead of Laredo, Texas.

How Do Other California and U.S. Cities Rank?

The best quality dog parks were found to be in Buffalo, NY, which ranked first, and Corpus Christi, TX, coming in second in that metric.

Most of the dog parks in both cities boast large, expansive facilities offering picturesque views near beautiful beaches for pet parents to enjoy. Top ranking for quality of their parks however, might have come down to design and cleanliness. Several parks in Buffalo offer gravel pathways on the ground, while another dog park offers a clay base area to help keep Fido clean.

San Francisco and Oakland ranked as best overall dog park cities, landing in 1st and 2nd place respectively. Other Valley cities ranking high in the overall list include Sacramento landing in the 15th spot, Bakersfield landing in at No. 22, and Stockton at No. 27.

Still, several Southern California cities, like San Diego and Chula Vista that ranked high on the list for their enviable weather all year round, also faired poorly for quality and access.

How Did Fresno Land in 36th Spot? 

These cities across the U.S. were rated by weighted metrics, such as the average monthly rain a city receives, average monthly percentage of sunshine, average number of very cold days,  and average number of very hot days. Fresno’s overall score of 57.3, was based on its climate rank of 18, accessibility rank of 35, and quality of dog parks ranking of 96, landing the city with an overall position of 36 out of 97 U.S. cities.

For the most part, dog parks or neighborhood parks around Fresno seem to be free and accessible to the public. There are more than 10 dog-friendly parks to choose from and only the Dr. James W. Thornton Dog Park  from the local Valley Animal Center requires a membership.

Membership-Based Park

The fee-based membership park offers quite a list of amenities that a normal park wouldn’t offer such as: a keycard to park, separate dog runs for canines under 25 pounds and over 26 pounds, a 2,000 gallon canine wading pool specifically for dogs, several water stations that are filled with fresh water daily, a canine agility course with a variety of obstacles, toys of all varieties, and doggie bag dispensers throughout the park.

“Our membership-based Dr. James W. Thornton Dog Park is unlike other dog parks in the Central Valley,” said Alisia Sanchez, Valley Animal Center marketing manager. “The dog park gives pet owners the opportunity to exercise and socialize their pets any day of the week between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m and they feel secure knowing all canine members have met the same requirements, and it really is a fun time for all parties involved to see their pets run around so freely, and it offers pet owners so much joy.”

Photo Provided By Valley Animal Center

To join the membership based fee park, canine applicants must be at least six months old, provide updated vaccination records, be spayed/neutered and pass a temperament test. Pet parents must sign a liability waiver and confirm their understanding of park rules.

The monthly fee for the Valley Animal Center dog park is $10, while the annual fee is $100.

Dog Parks In Fresno Open to the Public

Fresno’s public dog park facilities include a fenced area at Woodward Park offering space for small and large dogs as well as a “first encounter” spot to test your pooch’s temper with others doggos. They also have several walking or running trails, perfect for taking your  pup along with you on a leash.

If perhaps you’re looking for more open areas to take your dog to, Basin AH1 Dog Park also offers a large open area with many shaded spots to let your dogs run around in and rest during the hot summer months.

How Can Fresno Improve the Quality of its Dog Parks?

Fresno’s, Parks, After School, Recreation and Community Services Department says it’s planning improvements and enhancements to local dog parks. The city has filed applications for grant funds to renovate two existing dog parks and build two new ones.

 “There is a current plan moving forward to relocate the dog park located at Roeding Park within the park to increase accessibility to shading and parking. We welcome all community feedback and ideas as we explore ways to create interactive park spaces for all to enjoy,” said Sontaya Rose, the city’s communications director.

Cinnamon Grooms, Founder and CEO of the non-profit organization Tiny Paws Fresno says she would be glad to see a few more amenities added to parks around Fresno. Her organization hosts events to bring small dogs together to play while teaching them etiquette & behavioral skills.

She has attended city council meetings discussing the changes to the Roeding Park dog park, where she has been active in sharing ideas on how to improve Fresno’s facilities.

“I think there should be more things to offer and I would like to see more agility courses to keep dogs active and perhaps small sprinklers to keep dogs cool,” said Grooms.

Find Your Dog Park

For a list of all public dog parks in Fresno, click here. 

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