The comfort of our canine friends has become a matter of public assessment in Fairfax, Virginia. The county’s Park Authority is conducting an online survey for anybody who wishes to weigh in on the state of off-leash dog areas.

The survey, which will be available through December 15th, belongs to a countywide dog park study. The study aims to assess current and future needs of dog parks in the region and adopt strategies for long-term planning, development and management of those areas.

Currently, there are more than 87,000 registered pups and 11 dog parks for them and their owners in Fairfax. Survey participants could indicate how often they visit the parks, which parks they use the most, and how happy they are with their experiences there. In doing so, they can assess the level of their cleanliness and condition of their surface and fencing.

Participants are also free to leave any further comments they wish to let the authorities know of particular suggestions and concerns.

Time to Get Involved

The survey also seeks to address complaints by residents regarding the county’s dog parks and the conduct of animals and their owners there. Those who own neither such a companion nor a dog-walking business are asked to participate as well. By exhibiting a participatory citizenry, they can make their voices heard on issues such as aggressive dogs, inattentive pet owners, overflowing trashcans, and bad odor.

Fairfax County requires all dogs be on a leash unless they are in their owners’ yards or in a dog park. If a caregiver allows a dog to run free and third parties suffer injuries in an attack outside those areas, the victims may hold the caregiver accountable for the incident and claim compensation. It is, however, less straightforward what the county laws stipulate for incidents that happen in a dog park.

Currently, handlers may not bring more than two dogs into a Fairfax dog park at one time. A restriction designed to make sure caregivers retain an acceptable level of control over their animals. In the survey, participants also answer a question on that specific rule as well as how much they agree or disagree with it.

Online Resources

The county administration has online resources to regulate dog ownership and ensure both people and animal safety in the region.

Other than its own staff, the Park Authority also relies on Dog Park Monitors who have volunteered to assist with the operations and maintenance of the 11 dog parks. Those volunteers encourage awareness of dog park rules and regulations, report maintenance needs as well as picking up litter and dog waste inside the parks.

Operating hours of Fairfax County dog parks are 7 a.m. to one half-hour after sunset each weekday. On weekends and federal holidays, the hours are 8 a.m. to one half-hour after sunset.