Camas survey shows strong support for off-leash dog park

Over 660 respond; majority willing to volunteer, help maintain park

A survey gauging interest in siting an off-leash dog park in Camas has surpassed city staff’s expectations.

“Our target was 500 and we’ve had 666 responses,” Camas Parks and Recreation Director Trang Lam told members of the Camas Parks and Recreation Commission during a special Commission meeting Thursday, Oct. 26 — six days before the city’s online dog park survey ended Nov. 1.

Not only did the survey collect far more responses than staff had hoped for, but the answers were overwhelmingly in favor of having a dog park in Camas.

The vast majority of respondents (89% as of Oct. 26) said they wanted to see an off-leash dog park in Camas and over 57% said they would be willing to volunteer with the nonprofit DOGPAW group to help maintain the park.

Camas-Washougal residents have not had an off-leash dog park in their area since the Donald and Angeline Stevenson Off Leash Area located on a 16-acre parcel at 3003 Addy St., in Washougal, closed its gates in 2017.

In August, Lam and DOGPAW President Marty Rutkovitz presented dog-park information to the Parks Commission and discussed the possibility of DOGPAW, which already maintains four off-leash dog parks in Clark County, partnering with the city of Camas to help operate an off-leash park within city limits.

“We’re basically property managers,” Rutkovitz told the Commission in August. “We manage three parks for Clark County and one park owned by the city of Vancouver … and all of the work is done through unpaid volunteers.”

DOGPAW asks park users to become members of the nonprofit and give a suggested annual donation of $25. The key to building a thriving Camas dog park, Rutkovitz said, would be having buy-in from local users — many of whom, he suspects, are currently using DOGPAW’s 8-acre DAKOTA Memorial Dog Park at 1515 N.E. 164th Ave. in Vancouver.

“The key to having a dog park is to get, manage and sustain an active membership,” Rutkovitz told Camas Parks and Recreation Commission members in August. “There’s no magic number for it. Each park has its own unique membership.”

Lam said earlier this year that she was planning to move forward with the issue by first gauging the community’s interest in building and maintaining an off-leash dog park.

“The reason we’re having this conversation is to help our Commission and our public understand that this is a big project to develop a good dog park,” Lam said. “We can’t just keep bringing DOGPAW in every five years and saying, “Oh, we think we can build this park.’ We do want to respect DOGPAW’s time and commitment to pets and make sure we can do this before spending a lot of time on site selection.”

The online survey, which opened the first week of October and ran through Nov. 1, asked community members five questions: if they have a dog; if they would like an off-leash dog park in Camas; how often they might use such a park; if they would be willing to volunteer with DOGPAW to help maintain an off-leash dog park; and their city of residence.

The next steps in the process to bring an off-leash dog park to Camas, according to the city’s Engage Camas website, include a community membership drive to “measure community commitment to ensuring DOGPAW is successful in operating the facility through their volunteer- and donation-based nonprofit,” finding a suitable park site and evaluating potential costs.

For more information, visit dogpawoffleashp, or as-leaders-resurrect-off-leash-dog-park-talks/