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Dog Parks to Open in Phases

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On Monday, June 1, the Operations Committee approved the gradual reopening of five Dog Exercise Areas operated by the Lake County Forest Preserves starting next week with restrictions in place to comply with COVID-19 concerns. 
 
"Now that we have entered Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan, off-leash dog exercise areas are able to reopen as long as operational restrictions and additional safety and social distancing guidelines are in place," said Chief Operations Officer Mike Tully.  
 
Lakewood Dog Park in Wauconda and Waukegan Savanna Dog Park in Waukegan will open Monday, June 8. If all goes smoothly, Duck Farm Dog Park in Lake Villa and Prairie Wolf Dog Park in Lake Forest will open Wednesday, June 10 and Independence Grove Dog Park in Libertyville will open Friday, June 12. Check LCFPD.org/dogs to confirm opening dates and details.  
 
“Once reopened, modified use practices will be in place for the health and safety of Forest Preserve staff, dog owners and their pets,” Tully said. "Access will be limited to annual permit holders only. To help prevent overcrowding, daily permits will not be sold at this time. Additional signage will remind permit holders to do their part and abide by safety rules and protocols to help prevent the spread of COVID-19."
 
Ranger Police will monitor activity to ensure safety rules, social distancing and other public health guidelines are being followed, Tully said. The parking lots will also be monitored and if they become overcrowded, the entry gate may be closed until the number of visitors becomes manageable. 
 
For a “touchless” and socially distant visit, permit holders will be asked to follow these guidelines.

  • Gates will be utilized for one-way traffic only. Enter through the gate labeled ENTRY, and exit through the gate labeled EXIT.
  • Bring extra pet waste bags with you. They will not be stocked in the dispensers.
  • Don’t touch entry gates and other surfaces with bare hands. Use a clean pet waste bag to cover your hand as you manage the gate latch. Gloves or a clean towel may also be options.
  • Bring hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes with you.
  • All visitors must have a face mask with them at all times.
  • Face masks must be worn in situations in which social distancing cannot be maintained. This is most likely to occur in the parking lot and when dog owners have to disengage their dog from another dog in close proximity to another dog owner. 
  • Do not gather or linger near entrance gates, shelters or any other areas.
  • Practice social distancing between you and other dog owners, staying at least 6 feet away from the next person.
  • Warn other users of your presence and allow proper distance when you pass.
  • Display permit prominently on your dashboard or windshield so Forest Preserve staff can see it.
  • Do not bring in food or treats.
  • Water and restroom facilities are not available. 
  • Stay home if you or your animal is sick or have been near someone who’s sick.
  • Cover coughs/sneezes.

As with a visit to any public area with your pet, there are risks associated with off-leash dog areas, including exposure to ticks or other common dog illnesses spread by virus or bacteria, Tully said. “Use of the dog exercise areas is at your own risk. If you have concerns about the safety of your pet, please check with your veterinarian prior to your next visit,” he said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has specific COVID-19 guidance and recommendations for those who have pets.
 
“We understand that the off-leash dog areas provide a needed break during these difficult times. Minimizing contact at frequent touch points and not congregating will help us keep these areas open,” said Executive Director Ty Kovach. “If Forest Preserve and CDC guidelines are not followed, we will be forced to close the dog parks,” he said. 
 
Kovach also reminds visitors at this time, it is more important than ever to take additional precautions to protect against vehicle break-ins. There has been an increase in these crimes of opportunity in forest preserve parking lots. “Ranger Police are strongly urging preserve visitors to lock car doors, close windows, and keep personal property out of plain view, take it with you, or leave it at home,” Kovach said.

 

Media Contact
Mike Tully, Chief Operations Officer, mtully@LCFPD.org, 847-968-3415


Photo Requests
Kim Mikus, Communications Specialist, kmikuscroke@LCFPD.org, 847-968-3202

 

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