The National Park Service has reversed a contentious rule banning dogs and their owners from walking in the area around Logan Circle park’s statue.
According to the federal agency, leashed dogs and their owners are now allowed to roam every part of the park, including the fenced-off area that surrounds the statue of Major General John A. Logan. Dogs and humans were previously banned from that area, sparking a neighborhood debate back in May.
The rule change came about over the summer, said Robin Nixon, Chief of Partnerships at the NPS.
“After further consultation with solicitors at the Department of Interior, it was determined that we could not restrict pets from open areas, including the grassy area around statues,” Nixon said.
But that doesn’t mean dogs have free run of the place, she cautioned. Dog owners must keep their canines leashed at all times. It’s also illegal to let dogs go to the bathroom on or near the base of the statue, Nixon explained.
“Would you let your dog pee on the Washington Monument? It just seems like a common sense thing,” she said.
Some neighbors and local leaders have complained the park’s inner circle has become an unofficial dog park, leading to holes in the ground and discoloration of the statue’s base. Unleashed dogs can usually be seen running and playing in the area on any given evening.
Nixon said that while the agency won’t hesitate to ticket dog owners breaking the rules, it would prefer a more positive solution to the problem.
“We’re probably going to put up some educational information there by the statue that says, this is a memorial,” she said. “The history and the artistry of the statue is really important. We are doing everything we can to preserve them.”
Still, if all else fails, owners who break the law will be subject to fines, Nixon said. The agency plans to ask D.C. Police for extra help enforcing the rules in the coming months.
“It is regulation that your dog must be on the leash and it is against the law to deface government property. Urine will damage the statue,” Nixon said. “Hopefully, the educational effort has some impact, but we’ll go from there.”