If you’re looking for a place for your pooch to run around and play, try Hammond. The city is home to four designated leash-free dog parks: Amy Park and Dowling Park in Hessville, Riverside Park in Southwest Hammond, and Forsythe Park at Wolf Lake.
According to Mark Heintz, Hammond Parks and Recreation Department administrator, leashed dogs are allowed at most parks except areas designated for specific activities, such as sports fields. However, canines are free to roam at the four parks dedicated for them.
“No matter where people bring their dogs, the City of Hammond just asks that everyone do a better job of cleaning up after them,” said Heintz. “It’s a public health issue, it makes the job of mowing the grass at parks much more pleasant and it’s for the consideration of others.”
Each of the dog parks features equipment to give four-legged friends some fun and get a little exercise. Small obstacle courses, a large piece of equipment with a tunnel through which the doggies can crawl, and, of course, an attached slide.
The dog park at Riverside Park was Hammond’s first, opening in April 2015. Heintz said it’s about time for it to be updated.
Amy Park in Hessville is home to the newest Hammond dog park, at 173rd Street and Cline Avenue. Named for Hessville resident and volunteer, Amy Radolak, the park rose from an empty, rundown field called No Name Park. Radolak, a coach with Girls on the Run, played an integral part in pitching the idea to the Hammond Parks and Recreation Department.
Girls on the Run is a nonprofit that motivates, encourages and inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum that creatively integrates running. Radolak’s group of girls wanted to plant trees and flowers and get a track installed at the park. With the city’s support, Radolak’s vision came to life, along with a dog park.
Heintz said Hammond's looking to adding another dog park at Irving Park in the 2nd District at Chicago and Columbia Avenues, and another one in the 3rd District.
“We ultimately want to have a dog park in each district, so we can truly offer something to everyone in our city,” he said. “Dogs are an important part of families, with many treating them as their ‘children.’ In addition, many people feel safer when going for a walk if they have their dog with them.”
Whiting has no dog parks though canines are allowed on the Whiting Lakefront Trail from New York Avenue to the Whiting Lakefront Park, as well as on Front Street, the revamped boardwalk and the adjacent bike path, said Whiting Parks and Recreation secretary Adi Cruz.
Dogs also are allowed to be on Whilhala Beach during the off-season, before Memorial Day and after Labor Day.
“The main rules are that dogs must be restrained with a leash and owners must clean up after their dogs,” said Cruz. “Dog owners can find a list of all the rules posted at each park in Whiting.”
Likewise, East Chicago has no designated dog parks and dogs are not allowed at any of the city’s parks.
Mayra Acosta, East Chicago director of Parks and Recreation, said the city hopes to establish a dog park in the city, just not this year.
“We are also looking to eventually change some of our regulations so that dogs on a leash can be allowed in some of our parks,” she said. “But, again, that will not occur this year."