Underneath a network of highways, off of Martin Luther King Jr. Way in the Longfellow neighborhood, is a big expanse of green grass in the Grove Shafter Park. Here Oakland’s newest public dog park was opened on Saturday. “Our motivation was to make a community space that would bring people together with their dogs and their children in this neighborhood,” said Emily Rosenberg, who is part of the group ODOG (or the Oakland Dog Owners Group), which advocates for more public dog parks and off-leash space in Oakland.
Around 100 people came out for the official opening and celebration on the sunny weekend afternoon. Dozens of dogs ran around—from big fluffy dogs to three-legged dogs to tiny Chihuahuas—excitedly barking and playing catch with their owners. Eli’s Mile High Club, a near-by bar, cooked up barbequed pulled pork and people sold dog treats and toys. The Oakland Fire Department brought out a fire engine and the Oakland Police Department brought their K-9 unit for kids to admire. Central Valley Animal Lovers brought litters of puppies for people to adopt or just play with, and there was also a raffle to collect money for the park, which will go towards maintenance.
The Grove Shafter Dog Park has two separate fenced play areas—one for small dogs and one for big dogs. There are also benches and picnic tables and special trashcans for dog waste. This project was put together by ODOG, the City of Oakland’s Office of Parks and Recreation, the Oakland Redevelopment Agency, the Longfellow Community Association and District 1 councilmember Jane Brunner, who attended the celebration on Saturday.
“This is wonderful,” said Brunner during the “leash cutting” ceremony in which she unhooked a leash strung across the dog park gate to officially recognize the opening of the park. “This was an underutilized area.” She mentioned that having more people use the park could help make the neighborhood safer since it’ll be more populated. Rosenberg echoed this sentiment, saying, “I’ll tell you what’s special about this park—most of us haven’t been in this park before.”
The Grove Shafter Dog Park is the fifth public dog park to open in Oakland. ODOG is working to open up one more dog park near Lake Merritt.
The new park is located at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Way and 36th Street.