D.C.’s poorest ward decries not having dog park: ‘Black people have dogs, too’

“Ward 8 deserves the same amenities as other wards,” a community member stressed while calling for a dog park

Community members in a Washington D.C. ward are calling for the establishment of a dog park to serve Black residents. 

Hundreds of neighbors and the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 8C are leading the charge to create a dog park within Oxon Run Park, and they are hoping to tackle different issues along the way.

“The pandemic has caused demand for dogs and pet-friendly public spaces to skyrocket as people look for more positivity and companionship at home,” advocate James Earle wrote in a blog post he shared.

Black woman dog thegrio.com
(Credit: Adobe stock)

“However, there are zero public fenced-in dog parks in Wards 7 or 8, which makes it much harder for DC residents east of the river to keep their dogs happy and healthy. This lack of pet-friendly public infrastructure compared to the rest of DC is a symptom of our long history of racial injustice and wealth inequality,” he continued.

Organizers of the effort created an Oxon Run Dog Park website to raise awareness, collect signatures for a petition and ultimately accomplish their goal of bringing a new dog park to town. Parris Weaver-DuBose, a Black special-education teacher and community member, is helping fuel the charge, The Washington Post reported.

“Ward 8 deserves the same amenities as other wards,” Weaver-DuBose said. “Black people have dogs, too!”

The group is calling for a safe, dedicated and more accessible space to walk their dogs, socialize and further build community. 

“This community is filled with dogs and pet lovers, so it’s disappointing that a dog park isn’t available to us,” neighbor Rochelle wrote as a comment on the petition. “A dog park in Oxon Run Park will further build and help sustain a sense of community and ‘togetherness’ in this part of Ward 8.”

The community members take issue with there being no dog parks in Ward 7 or 8, when Washington, D.C. reportedly has several green spaces with more than 30 free public fenced-in dog parks around the metropolitan area.

“Ward 8 residents get the short end of the stick when it comes to a lot of public infrastructure—grocery stores, medical facilities, polling places—and then the infrastructure we do have is often poorly maintained, including our roads, sidewalks, playgrounds, and public parks. Ward 8 also struggles with more serious problems, including poverty, violent crime, and inequality,” the website stated.

Dog
(Credit: Adobe Stock Images)

Organizers spearheading the initiative insist that adding the new park to the area will support them in tackling deeper structural injustices by increasing civic engagement and engaging more community members.

“As you can tell, a dog park in Ward 8 is complicated. But getting it right and addressing these issues head-on keeps everyone involved committed to ensuring our dog park will actually serve everyone in the community, and it means the work we’re doing can educate and organize folks to tackle serious systemic injustices, too,” the website shared.

“At the end of the day, we’re not just fighting for a dog park; we’re fighting for equal opportunities, restorative justice, and environmental justice for Ward 8 residents and Black communities.”

More than 200 people have added their names to the petition, according to organizers of the effort. The projected location for the park would be the 100 block of Xenia St. SE.

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