Girsh Park Closes Off-Leash Dog Area

As both a runner and a dog lover, I can understand the pleasure derived from running with your dog. Not only is running good for you, but it’s also good for your pooch. World-renowned dog-behavior specialist Cesar Millan says that you can channel your dog’s energy much faster by running. According to Cesar, “Thirty minutes of running can benefit a dog more than one hour of walking. That’s because it’s faster, everything moves quicker, and they burn more energy.” And running your dog off-leash is even better. Cesar believes that if we all ran with our dogs, it would be a different world. The only problem is, where can you run your dog?

Lisa Acho Remorenko

In the City of Santa Barbara, there are several options for dog owners who want to run their dog off-leash. There is the Douglas Family Preserve (within the area posted by the Parks & Recreation director), Elings Park (subject to the rules and regulations of the operator of the park), Hale Park, and on the beach from the Shoreline Park Staircase to the eastern edge of the Arroyo Burro Estuary. However, if you want to run your dog off-leash in Goleta, you’ll be pressed to find a place.

Last month, Girsh Park’s off-leash dog area closed. According to a Santa Barbara Independent reader, who wishes to remain anonymous, numerous dog owners have contacted management at Girsh Park begging to keep the off-leash dog area open, but have failed. Currently, the Goleta Valley Dog Club is the only one who has access to the off-leash area, and the locals are no longer allowed to run their dogs. I never received a response from Girsh Park as to why the area closed. A local who accessed the off-leash area on a regular basis speculated that the insurance for the dog park was too high. She told me that the Goleta Valley Dog Club pays their own insurance for access.

According to dog owners who frequented the off-leash area, there have been problems at Girsh Park with aggressive dogs and owners not cleaning up after their pets. It is unfortunate that a few irresponsible owners have caused problems for the masses. The City of Santa Barbara states that in order to have your dog in an off-leash area, dog owners must be present with their dogs at all times, carry a leash, leash the dog at the first sign of aggression, clean up dog feces created by the dog, and bear full responsibility for filling any holes and repairing any damage created by the dog.

If you are a dog owner and have concerns about the off-leash dog area closing at Girsh Park, or if you have ideas as to how to keep the area open, you can contact Executive Director Ryan Harrington at (805) 968-2773 x3 or email him at

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