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 owner or handler must be in possession of one leash per dog at all times) unless in an area designated for dog exercise and training. The owner or handler of any dog is to REMOVE FECAL MATTER deposited by their animal on public property or public easement before the owner leaves the immediate area where the fecal matter was deposited. The owner or handler 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.

Certified Service Dogs are Exempt from This Policy

Service Dogs are defined as those dogs that have been professionally trained and certified as Service Animals.

Off-leash Dog Exercise and Training Areas

All dog owners/handlers are still responsible for having voice or sound control of their animal in designated exercise areas. When possible conflict exists within use of off-leash areas (particularly trails), by other people or dogs, then the owners/handlers must control their dog by leash if necessary. The owner or handler must respect all natural areas by staying on trails to minimize damage and preventing dogs from flushing, chasing or otherwise disturbing wildlife. The owner or handler must also restrict dogs in heat from off-leash areas, as well as dogs who exhibit aggressive behavior. 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 owner or handler must follow specific regulations within fenced offleash areas as posted at each site.

All trails.

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.

All trails. (Note – Little Squalicum Creek may contain hazardous chemicals which may be harmful to animals. Also, the Little Squalicum Beach area is NOT owned or regulated by the Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department.)

The field and trails adjacent to the treatment facility are open for dog training and exercise. City park regulations apply to this area.

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
  • Spray Parks
  • Athletic fields including but not limited to:
    • Civic & Joe Martin Fields
    • Frank Geri & Downer Fields
    • Squalicum Creek Park Ballfield
    • Battersby Field
  • Tennis Courts
  • Big Rock Garden Park
  • Woodstock Farm

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.

No Hunting

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

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).


For enforcement of Dog Off-Leash Areas, contact The Whatcom Humane Society: (360) 733-2080

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