Canine distancing? What do COVID-19 precautions look like at reopened dog parks?

No one can be happier about the reopening of Long Beach’s dog parks than dog owners. No—make that the dogs.

This weekend we went down to Gayle Carter Dog Park in Scherer Park, a .6-acre space with separated areas for large and smaller dogs, to chat with people as their dogs had their day cavorting with new and old buddies and running amok off leash.

Dog owners talked about the challenges of social distancing and their relief at being able to once more exercise and socialize their dogs since the parks opened May 13. Dogs aren’t at all interested in social distancing, and anyway, the World Organization for Animal Health reports that there’s hardly any chance that dogs can transfer COVID-19 between themselves or to their humans.

Long Beach is fortunate to have 10 dog parks and a dog beach. The parks range in size from the relatively tiny 800-square-foot Pike Park Dog Park on Seaside Way to the 2.9-acre Rosie’s Dog Beach, located on the beach in Belmont Shore between Granada and Roycroft avenues. The smaller the park, the greater the challenge it is to maintain social distancing, but as one Gayle Carter Dog Park visitor told us, it’s up to the humans to do that.

several people and one dog stay at least 6 feet apart on a large expanse of beach.

People and most canines had little problem staying 6 feet apart at Rosie’s Dog Beach. Photo by Kate Karp.

dogs and humans crowd at the shore

However, the whole social-distancing thing went to the dogs once they hit the shoreline. Photo by Kate Karp.

All Long Beach dog parks post a set of rules for visitors to observe, but the COVID-19 restrictions for outdoor activities, such as maintaining a 6-foot distance from other humans and keeping groups of people small, present new tricks for humans of any age to learn.

Sanitizing before, during and after your time in the park is important, and even though CDC reports that animals cannot transmit the virus on their fur, caution never hurts.

“I plan to wipe him down when he gets to the car,” Tracy Booth-South, a dog-park volunteer, said of her little blind dog, Mojo.

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Kate Karp is the Pets Columnist for the Long Beach Post covering the world of animal activism, pet adoptions and lots of cute cats. She’s called Long Beach home since 1994 and has written for the Post for about 10 years. Kate’s day job is as a copyeditor, which she discovered a love for during her 30-year tenure as a teacher. She describes the job as “like taking the rough edges off a beautiful sculpture.”
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