The Forest Preserve District reopened its dog parks on Monday, June 8.
The dog parks were closed in March when the state instituted its stay-at-home order as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, there were reports that the coronavirus survived on shared surfaces for several days. The District was concerned that dog park gate handles, waste bag dispensers and other shared dog park surfaces could have been virus transmission points.
But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has since revised its warnings and said the virus is mostly transmissible through respiratory droplets from person-to-person contact.
“Based on changing CDC recommendations along with our observations that people are social distancing in the preserves, we feel it is appropriate to reopen the dog parks at this time,” said Ralph Schultz, the Forest Preserve’s chief operating officer. "We would like to thank all preserve patrons for their patience and understanding during this difficult and unpredictable time."
Forest Preserve dog parks are located in Crete Township, Homer Glen, Joliet, Naperville, Shorewood and Wesley Township.
Please remember that all dog park patrons must have current 2020 dog park permits, and all permit holders must have current lanyards on display while visiting the dog parks. For additional rules and information, visit the Dog Exercising page.
Those who purchased 2020 dog park permits prior to March 21, 2020, will receive a 25 percent discount on 2021 passes to make up for the time the dog parks were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Anyone who has not yet obtained a 2020 dog park permit can purchase half-year permits starting Tuesday, June 9, via the website or mail. Instructions are available on the Dog Exercising page. In-person purchases won't resume until the District's visitor centers reopen. Half-year permits are half price and they are good through the end of 2020.
Because the state’s phase three COVID-19 restrictions are still in place, the Forest Preserve District is urging everyone to follow all dog park safety advice as well as general outdoor recreation recommendations from state and federal health officials.
The CDC’s current dog park advice as listed in its coronavirus FAQs is:
- Do not take your dog to a dog park if you are sick or if you have recently been in close contact with a person with COVID-19.
- Do not take your dog to a dog park if your dog is sick. Signs of sickness in dogs may include fever, coughing, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, lethargy, sneezing, discharge from the nose or eyes, vomiting or diarrhea.
- If your dog has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, talk to your veterinarian about when it is appropriate for your pet to go back to normal activities.
- Try to limit your dog’s interaction with other people outside of your household while at the dog park.
- As much as possible, avoid touching common items in the dog park like water bowls. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after touching items from the park. To make sure your dog has fresh water, consider bringing your own portable water bowl.
- Limit other pet items brought to the dog park, such as toys. Clean and disinfect anything taken to the park and returned home (leashes, toys, water bowls).
- Do not wipe or bathe your dog with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or any other products not approved for animal use.
Until the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer a threat, the Forest Preserve District has erected signs throughout the preserves advising all visitors to:
- Stay close to home.
- Do not congregate in groups of 10 or more.
- Keep at least 6 feet between yourself and others.
- Wear a protective mask, and masks are required when social distancing cannot be maintained.
- If the trail is crowded, plan to visit another time or move to another area of the preserve.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and then dispose of the tissue in the trash.
- If you do not have a tissue, cover coughs and sneezes with your arm, not your hand.
- Bring along hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
While the dog parks are reopening, latrines and water fountains will remain closed. COVID-19 updates will continue to be posted on the Current Headlines section of the District's website.
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