Dogs Off Leash Area at Little Zilker Park

There are signs up at Little Zilker that indicate they are looking at putting a dogs off leash area at little zilker park. If you have any inputs on where and how this should be implemented - drop them here and I’ll compile a report and send it to PARD and post here of course. What are your thoughts? I’d love for it to be large enough to throw a ball a good distance. Also would be great if there was water, shade, and benches. I don’t think it needs to be completely enclosed and could be a space for everyone - not just dogs. Similar to the great lawn or the off leash area by auditorium shores. Thoughts?

Feel free to markup the below image with your ideas:

IM absolutely against it if they fence off the baseball backstop and where the diamond use to be- that is supposed to be a shared park w Zilker Elementary.

we have been working on a field turf project now for 3 years at the elementary and I have a lot of history on this “shared park”.

even as a Vet- im not sure everyone is ready for another off-leash park… it has caused a lot of friction so be weary of this and make sure we do it the “right” way which would mean lots of convo, long sighted vision and ability to make changes.

Nicholas M. Vaughan DVM, MBA

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This issue has created a lot of tension in the area. It has been an On leash area for a long time that people have just ignored for a long time. It is primarily for kids given its location to the school and play equipment. I would be for some sort of enclosed dog area that is completely enclosed. It probably could not be that big and should be out of the way. Not interfering with the fields. Maybe a long narrow stretch along the treeline. On the far left of the picture shown. Dogs love trees and the squirrels hiding in them. They also provide shade. A few benches and it could work well.

Oh and by the way; maybe ACL 2023 could pay for it? Just saying

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Certainly could petition the Austin Parks Foundation - they gave $43k to Barton Hills Elementary park, but nothing to Little Zilker so far.

I can concur.

We need to get with Rob Parsons and Garrett Nick on this as they have some intel

Dr. Nicholas Vaughan

Little Zilker was intended to be a shared space between the community and Zilker Elementary. The off-leash dogs have commandeered the park, creating an uninviting and often unsafe space for the Zilker Elementary kids. We haven’t been able to use that baseball field for years due to the amount of dog feces and dogs that are not “under sound control of their human.” I’ve helped kids jump up on the playscape because they are being chased by a dog. I’ve picked up too many poop piles on the playground to count. The only way an off-leash dog park works is by being FULLY enclosed. I agree with Brent, the area under the trees, on the left side of the tennis courts and away from the playscape and baseball field would be preferable.

Ideally, people would walk their dog 2 blocks to the already off-leash dog park by Kinney Ave Church.

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Not sure Garrett likes me too much since I called him out for putting poop in the dog water bowls at Little Zilker.

I mean the great lawn at Zilker is not enclosed off leash, has lots of kids, and sand volleyball to boot.

I like the idea of the strip to the left with the trees - I worry that the neighbors there might not.

I’m a regular these days a the Kinney Ave church dog park since learning it is condoned by the church. I can say it is quite nice. When our kids were smaller it was nice to both be able to have the dog and the kids at lil’ zilker.


Well thats exactly the reason we should chat it out and make sure it does not cause major backlash.

I for one (as a pet advocate) dont love the free for all that happens there now bc kids are actively scared to go over there…. There is always one dog owner that says there dog is cool and it bites.

Trust me- I see at least 2 lacerations a day from dog parks (just me! Not our other doctors).

That said- I want that park to be re-imagined in general and not just turn into a torn up field from dogs although I love pets. I think we can do more.

I totally am up for partitioning off a piece of it and with some sort of boundary that is not expensive and ugly- having dogs off-leash. Many dogs do not need a full football field to get their exercise- a good walk around the block (3 miles a day) is great… and just a smaller space for socialization.

Its been shown sometimes too much room can be bad bc dogs will tend to get together- pack out… get in attack mode, run away, etc.

They tend to do better in closer confines up to a capacity point. I worked for Nestle Purina for 12 years and studied shelter medicine for a long time. You may just have to take my word :slight_smile:

Dr. Nicholas Vaughan

I’m all for listening to the experts. I only know myself and my dog :stuck_out_tongue: Great input - thank you.

I agree with Abbey and Nick—I’d like for it to be enclosed.

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I’ve known Garrett for a very long time. Not sure he would have put shit in a bowl. He is very set in his ways, but is also very moral. I also have known Rob for sometime as well. Great guy. I’ll reach out. The only issue I could see is neighbors backing to that section not wanting the dog area backing up to their properties. Maybe a 10 ft buffer. I’ll measure it out to see whats possible. Now how do we get our share from ACL? 43K, we are affected by ACL more than BH’s. BH plays ball with acl though

Hah - well he admitted to it - it’s why I actually stopped going there. But the past is in the past I suppose. If we can’t let bygones be bygones we won’t get very far.

As far as getting some money from the Austin Parks Foundation I’ll copy them when I send this feedback to PARD - not saying it will do any good, but worth a try!

I will say for myself, I’ll probably keep going to the Kinney Ave Church dog park regardless, but one thing I would be concerned about is if PARD is going to do something like this making sure the dog owners use it… would be sad to have an enclosed area and people just use the big field anyway.

The best model for this type of usage is West Austin Neighborhood Park in Clarksville. They have a reasonable sized fenced in off-leash. Outside of that is a lovely playground, splashpad, and neighborhood pool. It all backs right up to residential and a church on either side. A similar model would probably serve Little Zilker well.

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A pool at Little Zilker! Next thing you’re going to bring up pickle ball on the tennis courts!

I think you will get some help… they tried to help us and give us money but the school was resistant with changing of the guard- From Prin. Hill to Prin. Pitts.

Pitts has been a little less interested in teaming up with the neighborhood. She is more of a head down, dont cause problems type of leader (and see where it gets ya) vs. a progressive, lets change some stuff leader.

Definitely a personal opinion.

That said- prior to that when we started working on re-sodding the field and bringing irrigation- we discovered all kinds of grants beyond the usual which is why I highly suggest someone grab Rob P when he has some free time. The man is just as busy as any of us with a bunch of kids going back to school but he has intelligence, interest and contacts since there is overlap with his current role.

Dr. Nicholas Vaughan

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Supposedly the grass behind fire stations is also marked as leash free but think they took much of that land on rebuilding

Dr. Nicholas Vaughan

Agree with this wholeheartedly. If Little Zilker adds a space for dogs further away from the school, that’s probably the best option to please the most folks. I have 2 daughters, and my youngest has severe allergies. Dog food often contains those allergies, and we don’t make it out to Little Zilker in more temperate weather due to her safety. She’s broken out multiple times due to generous affection from canines, which is tough as I also love dogs and used to have one myself.

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Huh - good to know. It’s not on the city website, but probably at the discretion of the kind firefighters.