Dog park permit holders will receive discounted 2021 dog park passes as a result of dog park closures experienced this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A 20 percent discount on 2021 annual permits will be available for all 1,640 customers who have already purchased 2020 permits. The Forest Preserve District's Board of Commissioners approved the compensation plan on May 14.
“We understand the impact that the dog park closures have had on our patrons and want to provide fair compensation for the inconvenience,” said Ralph Schultz, the Forest Preserve’s chief operating officer. “We plan to reopen the dog parks as soon as practical given the public health crisis we are facing and will adjust the discount accordingly.”
The 2021 discount also will apply to anyone who buys a permit before June 30 (should permit sales resume by then). But the discount will not apply to half-price permits, which are scheduled to go on sale July 1.
The 20 percent discount will apply to any category of 2021 annual permit: 1, 2, or 3 dogs; resident and non-resident. The discount will range from $8 to $28 per permit depending on the category of permit purchased. The discount could increase based on how long the dog parks are closed. 2021 permits are scheduled to go on sale November 1.
The Forest Preserve District’s six dog parks closed on March 21 when the state’s stay-at-home order went into effect to try to limit the spread of the new coronavirus, which could overwhelm healthcare institutions and lead to more deaths. Forest Preserve dog parks are located in Crete Township, Homer Glen, Joliet, Naperville, Shorewood and Wesley Township. The Forest Preserve has suspended the sale of any new dog park permits during this period as well.
“By design our dog parks are meant to be social spaces for dogs and their owners and the nature of the free-play environment makes it nearly impossible to maintain the recommended social distancing guidelines,” Schultz said.
The dog parks will remain closed until further notice due to the shared contact surfaces present at the off-leash parks and the possibility that they will become overcrowded as people look for more outdoor diversions. Gates, benches, dog waste stations and shared dog toys could all spread COVID-19.
The National Institutes of Health says the virus that causes COVID-19 is stable for several hours to days in aerosols and on surfaces. In addition to possible contamination from shared dog park surfaces and toys, dogs that play too rough or get into skirmishes often must be pulled apart by owners, which would place them in close proximity to each other.
Stay up-to-date on the happenings in Will County's forest preserves by subscribing to The Citizen, our weekly digital newsletter that provides subscribers with updates on Forest Preserve news, upcoming events, and other fun and useful information for the whole family. If you're only interested in programs, subscribe to The Weekly Five, which outlines the five must-do programs each week. Signing up for either newsletter is easy and free of charge.