Let The Dogs Out! Parks and beaches are big hits with best buddiesJan 24, 2021 12:30PM ● By ANN MARIE O’PHELAN
Thomas Browne of Fort Myers knows all too well what it feels like being cooped up. “Dogs get cabin fever just like we do,” explains Browne. He heads to Barkingham Dog Park, 9800 Buckingham Road in Fort Myers, to give his dog, Addie, a run on regular occasions. “She loves it,” adds Browne, who always takes along water and doggie clean-up bags.
Lee County Parks and Recreation operates six off-leash parks where dogs can run, meet up with other dogs and their owners, and get a little air. “There a total of five dog parks within our county parks that total 5.67 acres. Dog Beach in Bonita Springs is its own site, which includes about 15.92 acres,” says Jesse Lavender, Parks & Rec director. Dog Beach has canine shower stations and was ranked “No. 9 Best Dog Park in America” by The Active Times in 2018.
K-9 Corral Dog Park’s address is 9200 Corkscrew Palms Blvd., Estero, and Paws 4 Duty Dog Park is at 55 Homestead Road South in Lehigh Acres. Pooch Park Dog Park is located at 1297 Parkview Court, North Fort Myers, and Woof-A-Hatchee Dog Park is at 16760 Bass Road in Fort Myers. Visit leegov.com/parks/dog-parks for more info.
Because Southwest Florida is growing so quickly, more off-leash dog parks may be coming. Lee County Parks & Recreation is currently working on one in Boca Grande, at the Boca Grande Field site. “Parks and Recreation staff met with members of the community to discuss it … and a consultant is working on the design,” adds Lavender.
In addition to the off-leash dog parks operated by Lee County Parks & Recreation, Cape Coral has Waggin Tails Dog Park, located at 5505 Rose Garden Road. Dog registration and annual fee are required; check capecoral.net for more info. Doggy Heaven at Shell Factory is at 16554 N. Cleveland Ave., North Fort Myers; rules at shellfactory.com.
Many Lee County Parks & Recreation locations allow dogs if they are on a leash. The dogs must be accompanied by an adult and remain leashed at all times. Dogs are not permitted on playgrounds, ballfields, dugouts, bleachers, lakes/ponds, swimming pools, water parks, indoor buildings, areas where food is handled and other areas with posted signs.
Additional rules state that dogs must not act in a threatening or menacing manner and must not be permitted to destroy park property or disturb wildlife. Dogs must wear a collar with a valid Lee County license. Owners must pick up after their pets.
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, park visitors are asked to continue following Centers for Disease Control guidelines for social distancing by maintaining 6 feet or more between people. Vulnerable individuals are still encouraged to remain at home.
Head to the Water with Your Best Buddy!
There are several dog-friendly spots for canine owners who enjoy sunbathing and swimming with their furry friends: Causeway Islands Park is a 10-acre site at 19931 Sanibel Causeway Road, linking the mainland to Sanibel Island. Parking is free. Leashed dogs are also allowed at Bowman’s Beach, where visitors will find seclusion and hiking trails, picnic areas, grills, bathrooms and bike racks. Parking is $5 per hour; info at leegov.com.Sanibel’s Gulfside City Park Beach at 2001 Algiers Lane is home to endangered shorebirds and sea turtles, so dogs must be kept on a leash no longer than 8 feet. Find out more at mysanibel.com. At Lover's Key State Park, 8700 Estero Blvd. on Fort Myers Beach, dogs are allowed only on the trails and must be kept on a 6-foot leash. Black Island Trail is 2.5 miles and meanders through a maritime hammock right along the canal banks of Black Island. Parking is $8 per vehicle. Visit floridastateparks.org for further info.
Ann Marie O’Phelan is a Southwest Florida resident and a regular contributor to TOTI Media.