Animal Regulations

The purpose of this information is to acquaint you with the City Laws and Policies relating to having animals within City of Bellingham Park facilities. (Bellingham Municipal Code 8.04.070)

General Regulations

All dogs in City Parks must be under control by means of being ON LEASH AT ALL TIMES (the responsible person must be in possession of one leash per dog at all times) unless in an area designated for dog exercise and training.

The person responsible for any dog is to REMOVE FECAL MATTER deposited by their animal on public property or public easement before the responsible person leaves the immediate area where the fecal matter was deposited. The responsible person of any dog must have in their possession the equipment necessary to remove their dog’s fecal matter when accompanied by said dog on public property or public easement.

Service Animals

Under the ADA, service animals must be under the control of a responsible party. Service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered unless the responsible party’s disability prevents using these devices or these devices interfere with the service animal’s safe, effective performance of the tasks. In that case, the individual must remain in control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.

On-leash Areas

All areas not posted otherwise require dogs to be on a leash as part of the City Park Code and Citywide Leash Law.

Off-leash Dog Exercise and Training Areas

All responsible parties must still have voice or sound control of their animal in designated exercise areas. When a possible conflict exists within use of off-leash areas (particularly trails), by other people or dogs, then the responsible party must control their dog by leash if necessary. The responsible party must respect all natural areas by staying on trails to minimize damage and preventing dogs from flushing, chasing or otherwise disturbing wildlife.

Dogs in heat or those who exhibit aggressive behavior are prohibited from dog off-leash areas and fenced off-leash areas.

The City has designated, by City Policy PAR 3.01.20 the following Park areas where dogs can be off leash for exercise and training as signed.

The responsible party must follow specific regulations within fenced off-leash areas as posted at each site.

All trails. Please protect your dog and salmon by keeping your dog on a leash and out of Chuckanut Creek during spawning season.

The fenced off-leash area near the ballfields in the southeastern part of the Park. Trails as designated at the east end of the Park between the fenced off-leash area and Galbraith entry on E. Samish. A dog water exercise area near the ballfields area (east side of lake) is signed for dog training/exercise. Dogs are restricted to entering Lake Padden only in this area.

All trails plus the water are designated for water exercise and training area.

All secondary trails. Dogs must be on leashes on all paved trails plus the Jersey Street and Arboretum Walkway which are the two trails at the bottom of the Arboretum abutting the University campus.

6 a.m. to 10 a.m. year-round. If wet weather results in turf damage, off-leash dogs will only be allowed south of the parking lot, at the discretion of the Director of the Parks & Recreation Department.

The Waterline Trail (south of Whatcom Creek) west of the Water Treatment Plant to Bayview Cemetery and the trail from the Waterline Trail south to Lakeway. (Note: Dogs must be on-leash in all areas within Bayview Cemetery)

All trails. (Note: Little Squalicum Beach area is NOT owned or regulated by the Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department.)

6 a.m. to 10 a.m. year-round.

Animal Restricted Areas

Due to heavy use by the public plus safety and health concerns, as well as sensitivity to art and gardens, there are several park areas where dogs and domestic animals are not allowed.

  • Playgrounds including Parkour at Cordata Park
  • Spray Parks
  • Athletic fields including but not limited to:
    • Civic & Joe Martin Fields
    • Frank Geri & Downer Fields
    • Squalicum Creek Park Ballfield
    • Battersby Field
  • Sport Courts including Tennis, Pickleball, Basketball
  • Bicycle Pump/Jump Tracks
  • Big Rock Garden Park

On-leash Areas

All areas not posted require dogs to be on a leash as part of City Park Code and Citywide Leash Law.

Horses in City Parks

Horses are only allowed on paved roads open to motor vehicles OR designated bridle trails in the following parks:

  • Arroyo Park – All trails.
  • Cornwall Park – Wooded area between ballfield & pedestrian trail.
  • Lake Padden Park – Bridle trails on wooded side of park above pedestrian trail.
  • Little Squalicum Park – Trail from Bellingham Technical College to Bay.
  • Whatcom Falls Park – Trails across the bridge, North of Whatcom Creek.

The owner or handler is responsible for cleaning up waste deposits left on park property and they are required to have in their possession the equipment necessary to remove the fecal matter when accompanied by their horse on public property or public easement.

Hunting in Parks Prohibited

No person shall hunt, catch or injure any wild animal or bird on park property.

Fishing in Parks

Fishing in parks or along trails is regulated by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)

  • Fishing hotline: 360-902-2500
  • WDFW Fisheries Program: 360-902-2700
  • Nooksack Tribal Police: 360-592-9065
  • Lummi Tribal Police: 360-312-2274

For non-emergency violations/poaching:
Call WDFW toll-free: 1-877-933-9847 (1-877-WDFW-TIP)

Violation of Regulations is Punishable by Fine

Any violation of a provision of the regulation is a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine not to exceed two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00).

Rule Enforcement

For enforcement of Dog regulations, contact Whatcom County Animal Control: (360) 733-2080
For all other animal-related questions or concerns regarding enforcement, contact Park Operations: 360-778-7100.

We are adjusting some City operations due to the current COVID-19 surge, prioritizing essential services and the safety of employees and the public.