Photo of Dog

The Plan

Proposed Site Plan

View the latest site plan for The Barkyard.

Our Mission

To establish off-leash areas within City and County parks, where dogs and their owners can exercise and socialize in a clean, safe environment without infringing on the rights of others.

To develop well-maintained spaces, open to all dog lovers and friends, who are willing to uphold the rules and regulations.

To view these parks as community projects, in partnership with the City of Buffalo and Erie County, designed to satisfy the needs of dog owners and non-dog-owners alike.

Phase I — (Complete)

Temporary site control, local approvals, implementation

The City of Buffalo and County of Erie have designated an underutilized softball area in LaSalle Park as Western New York’s first dedicated off-leash area—The Barkyard. This temporary area consists of perimeter fencing, a rudimentary means of entry / egress, trash and dog-waste containers. The Erie County Parks Department (ECPD) has provided wood chips for surfacing the pathway to the park and has partially covered the inside of the park area. The ECPD also regularly empties the trash recepitcles. People who frequent the park have made simple but effective repairs to temporary fencing, maintain park cleanliness and tidiness, and donate to communal dog toys and agility training equipment.

The Barkyard operates under established rules during normal park hours. These rules are posted at the entry / egress plaza, and have been self-policed. Disposable mitt dispensers have been placed at different locations within the park, with specially marked waste containers for disposal. The response from the community has been tremendous, resulting in 2,000 visitors per week during peak weather conditions. Dedicated Barkyard time slots have been set aside by groups of dog owners—on one Saturday afternoon, more than three-dozen Pugs enjoyed the park together.

Dog owners come from all corners of WNY, from as far away as Rochester and Salamanca. This site is a testament to the park’s initial success. Recent articles and discussions from The Buffalo News, Artvoice, TV Media News, and Buffalo Rising have helped spread the word.

Phase II — (Complete)

Analysis of project feasibility, development of governance

It is abundantly clear that The Barkyard is in demand. Data shows that it is in the community’s best interest to support this action and designate the not-for-profit corporation—Buffalo Off Leash Area Inc.—to manage a permanent off-leash area with appropriate accommodations for a safe, sanitary environment. Regardless of weather conditions, this addition to our regional park system will be available 365 days a year.

  1. Temporary permit to operate was secured in July 2007 from the Erie County Parks Department; this permit was declared permanent due to its overall success
  2. The Barkyard is recognized by the City of Buffalo and the Buffalo Police Department as a positive community contribution and strong deterrent to unsavory and criminal activity in a once underutilized area
  3. Application for 501 (c) (3) designation has been awarded
  4. The City of Buffalo has committed an area in LaSalle Park to be the permanent home of The Barkyard

Phase III — (In Progress)

Developing a permanent off-leash area

There are many things we must consider in order to move The Barkyard to a permanent site within LaSalle Park:

A. Fencing — (Complete)

The primary function of The Barkyard is to have an area where dogs can be allowed to run and exercise freely off-leash, which requires the perimeter of the park to be fenced. The concerns are how to keep the dogs from getting loose and running away, the safety of other users of the surrounding park, and the ability to monitor activity within the park.

A 4-foot-high fence made of chain-link or welded wire with a color coating should surround the entire park. An inner division should also be erected to separate  large- and small-dog exercise areas.

B. Gates — (Complete)

The primary concern is to have an entry / egress plaza, known as a sally port, where dogs can be taken off-leash before entering the park, or put on-leash before leaving the park. The sally port would have three gates, allowing visitors to do the following:

  1. Approach the park with dogs on-leash
  2. Enter the large-dog area with dogs off-leash
  3. Enter the small-dog area with dogs off-leash

The sally port allows for safe movement of an owner and up to three dogs. These gates would be located on an asphalt pad, acting as a vestibule for park access.

There must also be ten-foot-wide double-swing gates to allow access for maintenance and emergency vehicles. Trucks and maintenance / mowing equipment must have access into the park to cut grass and allow for the performance of other activities.

C. Accessibility (ADA-compliance) — (Complete)

Physically challenged and elderly citizens need full access and a smooth surface that allows them and their dogs to safely enjoy the park.

D. Ground Cover — (In Progress)

Ground cover is imperative for sanitation and the safety of dogs and their owners. The Barkyard will be used year-round, in all weather conditions. Provisions should be made to control dust, mud, snow, ice and extreme weather conditions.

E. Shade — (In Progress)

It is desirable to have shade for dogs and owners. A shelter should be provided and trees planted within the park. The shade-trees must be fast-growing, with a sufficient leaf crown.

F. Seating — (In Progress)

There should be permanent park benches throughout The Barkyard. The park benches should be spaced around the area to provide owners with their own rest areas within the park, while discouraging “clumping” of owners and dogs. Clumping can lead to territorialism and dog aggression.

G. Water — (Complete)

A shared water supply line for a water fountain and spigot on each side of the park should be laid inside The Barkyard. The handles should be spring-loaded or volume-controlled, to conserve water use.