Grand Forks Dog Parks Busier than Usual

Increases in pet adoptions and fostering due to COVID-19 has led to more dog park attendees


Courtesy of Unsplash

Kylee Danks, News Writer

“My favorite part about the dog park is letting my dog run free and socialize,” Brooke Rieger, UND student, and Grand Forks resident said of her experiences at the Lincoln Dog Park. Rieger’s dog, a 12-year-old black Labrador retriever named Duke, enjoyed sniffing around and playing with other dogs at the dog park often in his younger yearsNowadays, Duke prefers a more low-key lifestyle, but another Grand Forks pet resident, Nash, a 9-month-old Golden Retriever, is just beginning to experience the joys of the dog park. Nash’s owner, UND alumna Heather Gilbert, says she takes him to the park often to play fetch and interact with other dogs. Gilbert likes that he can burn off some energy and that the park gets her outside in the winter. Since it opened in 2007, the Lincoln Dog Parklocated in Lincoln Drive Park, has been an important place for dogs and their owners to enjoy time interacting with the community and the outdoors.  

According to the ASPCA, there have been growing numbers of pet adoptions and fostering in the US since the COVID-19 lockdowns began in March. In response, the two dog parks in the Grand Forks area have seen increased traffic. With more dogs and dog owners new to the attendees must watch their dogs while at the park and remove them if they become aggressive as well as remember to social distance. Both Rieger and Gilbert mentioned that the only real downside to the dog park was when people do not control their aggressive dogs or fail to clean up after them.  

Since the COVID-19 pandemic continues to restrict public activities, going to the dog park is something many residents can still enjoy while feeling safe. As the winter turns into spring, however, the Lincoln Dog Park will likely close temporarily due to flooding. In Spring 2019, the Grand Forks Herald reported a sixweek closure of the Lincoln Dog Park due to flooding, an often-yearly occurrence due to its location. Luckily for dog owners, there is another dog park north of town located next to the Circle of Friends Humane Society which opened in 2009. Although slightly smaller than the Lincoln Dog Park, the Circle of Friends Dog Park floods less and is often less crowded. The Lincoln location is open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. and more information can be found here. The Circle of Friends dog park is open from dawn to dusk, details and directions are on this site 

As attendance to these dog parks increases, the question of adding additional dog parks in the Grand Forks arises. When asked, Duke’s ownerRieger, said she thinks there is enough space at the Lincoln Dog Park that building a new park is not justified. On the other hand, Nash’s owner, Gilbert, who began going to the park post-COVID-19, believes Grand Forks should have more dog parks, “…the only question is where. I have no clue,” said Gilbert, “It would be nice to have a fencedin park with a paved walking trail.” Another local, Joanna Pearson, wrote into the Grand Forks Herald in 2017, shortly after the Macy’s in Columbia Mall began closing, stating that the empty location would be a perfect place for an indoor dog park. Whether or not Grand Forks gains a new dog park, it is always important to remember that all dogs that enjoy the parks must be leashed when entering/leaving, well-groomed (i.e. parasite-free), in good health, and have current rabies vaccination/ID tags on their collar. Rules and regulations for the parks can be found on the Grand Forks Greenway and the Visit Grand Forks websites. 


Kylee Danks is a Dakota Student News Writer. She can be reached at [email protected]