Talk of the Town: Off-Leash Dogs on Mercer Island

March 7, 2016 | by Erin Sirianni

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LouieThe latest buzz around Mercer Island is about possible new leash rules in Pioneer Park – specifically in the Northwest quadrant.

The Mercer Island Reporter published an article last week about the possible new rule that would require owners to leash their dogs in the quadrant, which has been recently recommended by Mercer Island’s Open Space Conservancy Trust Board.

The recommendation follows complaints that some dogs allowed off-leash in the quadrant aren’t under signal or voice command as required by Mercer Island’s leash law.

I tried to follow the conversation, and frankly, I found it all a little bit confusing.  Where can dogs be on-leash and off-leash on Mercer Island?  As it turns out, it’s not exactly black and white.

Mercer Island has two designated off-leash areas (the dog park at Luther Burbank and Wildwood Park in the Mercer Island Estates neighborhood).  And then there are three public parks where dogs are required to be on-leash (the rest of Luther Burbank Park, Deane’s Children’s Park – aka Dragon Park – and the Northeast quadrant of Pioneer Park). That makes all the other park space on Mercer Island a bit of a gray area, where dogs can be off leash but must be under voice / signal control.

And that’s why the Northwest quadrant of Pioneer Park has become controversial – it’s extremely popular with dog owners who let their pets off-leash (there’s even a public Facebook group called Pioneer Park Unleashed), but some owners have come to treat the space as a designated off-leash area, which has become troublesome for other park frequenters who know the rules and are less enthusiastic of all the friendly Fidos running around.

So in the next few months, the Council may discuss the possibility of requiring leashes in this section of Pioneer Park and invites anyone who would like to comment about the proposed change at tonight’s council meeting. If you have strong feelings on the issue, this is a great time to weigh in. And feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

In the mean time, here’s a quick overview of dog-friendly parks and off-leash rules on Mercer Island:

Mercer Island’s Dog Park & Off-Leash Areas:

Luther Burbank Dog Park – Mercer Island’s most popular destination for dog owners, this fenced-in area is located at the north end of Luther Burbank Park and includes a beach.

Wildwood Park – This park is an open-space in the Mercer Island Estates neighborhood. It is not fenced.

Good to know:

  • Dogs are allowed in all public parks on Mercer Island, except on or near public beaches during the summer months (May 1 – September 30th) – Groveland Park, Clarke Beach Park, and Luther Burbank’s swimming beach.
  • Dogs are not allowed on school property, playgrounds, or sport courts
  • Dogs must be leashed in Luther Burbank Park (except for in the dog park), Deane’s Children’s Park (aka, Dragon Park), and the Northeast quadrant of Pioneer Park
  • Otherwise, dogs can be off-leash, but they must be under voice/signal control.

More more information about our local dog policies according to Mercer Island’s Leash Law, visit the City’s Leash Law information page.