Cain Park officially goes dog-friendly

Photo courtesy City of Cleveland Heights.

Since 1973, Cleveland Heights dog owners have had to settle for walks around the block or drive to other cities to find dog-friendly parks. For some, proximity to a park that welcomes dogs is a factor in choosing where to live, and that hasn’t been a selling point for Cleveland Heights—until now.

Starting April 15, a six-month pilot program for Cain Park, driven by the Cain Park Neighborhood Association’s Dog Project initiative, will allow residents and their dogs to enjoy one of Cleveland Heights parks together.

Cleveland Heights City Council passed new legislation on Feb. 19 stating that, for a six-month trial period, April 15 through Oct. 15, leashed-dog walking will be allowed in Cain Park. Resolution 18-2013 stipulates that:

  • Any dog must be on a leash that is extended no farther than six feet and must wear a collar or harness of proper size and strength for the particular dog.
  • Any dog must be under the control of a person who possesses physical strength and experience sufficient to exercise reasonable restraint and control of the dog.
  • Any person bringing a dog into a public park shall promptly clean up waste from the dog and place it in provided receptacles.
  • Any person bringing a dog into a public park shall confine the dog to paved pathways.
  • Dog-walking shall be suspended during the Cain Park Arts Festival and other widely-attended events as determined by the city manager.

The pilot program will be evaluated at the end of the trial period. At that time, council will consider the option of extending dog-friendly status to Forest Hill Park and/or Cumberland Park.

All six council members who attended the Feb. 19 council meeting voted in favor of the resolution. Janine Boyd was absent.

Jason Stein, a council member who supported the idea and introduced the legislation, is optimistic about the program: “This initiative is a direct result of citizen participation in the community and working with council to create something positive.”

Both Mayor Ed Kelley and Vice Mayor Dennis Wilcox thanked the Dog Project volunteers, and reminded them that this pilot project will be looked at carefully. Wilcox said, “I hope that everything goes better than we all expect, and it probably will, but I just want to make sure that . . . if there are any issues or problems, that we address them.”

Kelley challenged the Dog Project volunteers to “let us know what is going on.” He urged them to keep council informed “in good times and in bad,” adding, “hopefully, it will all be good.”

Kerri Whitehouse, Dog Project spokesperson, commented, “From what we understand, this pilot program involving a partnership between council, city staff and volunteer citizens is the first of its kind in Cleveland Heights. What we’ve requested is a departure from current policy, and we appreciate council’s willingness to revisit a law that might have made sense 40 years ago, but one that many Cleveland Heights residents feel isn’t working today.”

The Dog Project Committee’s pilot program is among the Cain Park Neighborhood Association’s strategies to increase foot traffic and park use. The group aims to reduce crime by bringing more eyes and ears to Cain Park and the surrounding neighborhood, which has experienced an increased rate of criminal activity in recent years.

The citizen-driven Dog Project has recruited 20 volunteers who, on a rotating basis, will restock biodegradable waste bags in dispensers that will be installed throughout the park. Four volunteers have stepped forward to help maintain the group’s website, which is still under construction, but is now live at The website is intended to be resource for creating awareness and educating people about responsible dog ownership.

The Dog Project Committee is in the early stages of planning activities for the weekend of April 20 and 21, to celebrate the start of the pilot program. The group intends to sponsor future events geared toward encouraging responsible dog care and ownership, and seeks volunteers interested in event planning.

For more information about the Dog Project or volunteering, visit or the group’s Facebook page at; e-mail the group at; or call 440-478-6226.

Elisabeth Farrer

Elisabeth Farrer is a recent graduate of Case Western Reserve University where she received a B.A. in English. She is interested in writing about Greater Cleveland, so everyone will come to love this city as much as she does. 

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Volume 6, Issue 3, Posted 11:19 AM, 02.26.2013