⚓ The Portsmouth Dog Park ⚓

The Park Will Eventually Include:

Park Rules

The following rules shall be posted at, and followed by, all dog owners, keepers, guardians and other users of the Portsmouth Dog Park:

  1. Only dogs that are currently vaccinated for rabies and licensed in the town in which they reside are allowed to enter the park.
  2. No dog under 6 months old, or that has received its first rabies shot within the past 30 days, may enter the park.
  3. All dogs must be spayed/neutered and free from disease and internal parasites.
  4. All dogs must be removed from the park by their owner, keeper or guardian at the first sign of aggression.
  5. All dogs must be leashed while entering and exiting the park.
  6. No more than 3 dogs may be brought into the park by any one owner, keeper or guardian at any time.
  7. Dogs must be under the control of the owner, keeper or guardian at all times.
  8. The use of pinch, choke or electronic collars within the park is prohibited.
  9. No dog that has been legally declared vicious is allowed in the park.
  10. No food is allowed in the park.
  11. The park is open from dawn to dusk and closed during maintenance.
  12. All dog bites must be promptly reported to the Portsmouth Police (683-0300) or Animal Control (643-0136).
  13. Owners, keepers and guardians of dogs are required to clean up after their dogs and properly dispose of all waste, and to repair any damage caused by their dogs.
  14. The use of alcohol and/or tobacco is prohibited.
  15. No children under the age of 16 may enter the park unless under adult supervision.
  16. The park is for recreational use only and no attendant is on duty. All users of the park do so at their own risk. All owners, keepers and guardians of dogs and other users of the park agree to release and hold the Town of Portsmouth and its various departments, employees, volunteers and agents harmless from any and all liability, claims, and/or damages for personal injury, property damage, or injury to their pet(s).
  17. The Portsmouth Police Department and Animal Control reserve the right to ban any owner, keeper, guardian, dog or other user from the park for violation of these rules.
  18. Violation of any of these rules is punishable by a fine of $100 for a first violation, $200 for a second violation, and $300 for a third or any subsequent violation.

Park Location

Note: The actual location of the park is 50 Smith Road, Portsmouth RI, 02871. However, Smith Road might not show up on many GPSes.

The Beginnings

Written by: Bunny Miller

In 2002 my physician advised me to begin serious walking for my health. There are many wonderful spots to walk on Aquidneck Island and beyond, but I noticed that most walkers were accompanied by their dogs. Since I had retired from full time employment and my last cat had died recently, I began the search for a canine companion. During this time, Oscar, a 22-pound sherry and white Lhasa Apso, was living with an elderly gentlemen in Portsmouth. When his owner needed to move into a nursing facility, Oscar was passed along to his home caregiver. Soon after, the caregiver moved out of state and Oscar found himself with yet another owner, who was forced to give him away again within a few months. Confused and troubled, Oscar ran away at the first opportunity and was found wandering lost, with no identification, and was taken to the Potter League for Animals. They held him for 30 days, thinking that someone would claim a fairly young, purebred dog, but no one did. Then he went out for adoption - an adoption that didn't take. At the same time he was returned to the League, I was visiting there for a consultation about another dog I was considering. The League personnel thought that Oscar and I would make a good match, so I adopted him instead in the spring of 2003. And what a match that turned out to be! Oscar couldn't get enough of the long walks, and especially loved dog parks, being very social with other dogs and people. By age 15 he was completely blind, but still frisky and enjoying his walks. On the evening of March 31, 2013 at the end of a walk near my condominium complex, a boxer/pit bull mix dog, who was running loose in the neighborhood, raced out of the dark woods and viciously attacked Oscar, grabbing him by the neck and shaking him violently. Despite my repeated attempts to get Tyson to release him, Oscar's neck was broken and he died in my arms.

The end of Oscar's life began the second part of this story. A vicious dog hearing was held a week later and sanctions imposed upon the attacking dog and his owners, but I remained stunned by my senseless loss and Oscar's unwarranted suffering. In trying to cope with the nightmare and wanting something positive to come from Oscar's death, I asked myself, "How would Oscar want to be remembered?" The answer was clear to me - a dog park! So I petitioned the Portsmouth Town Council for permission to form a Planning Committee to research and establish a volunteer-based, 100% community- funded dog park within Portsmouth. The Council voted on June 10, 2013 to allow this project to begin. Volunteer members came forward and the Portsmouth Dog Park Planning Committee began meeting in July and soon adopted a mission statement. Selecting a site for the Dog Park, however, proved difficult for several reasons. Because of the mandate to raise all the necessary funds for building the dog park, the Committee was looking at open, flat, accessible, and easily fenced areas. The Melville Park Committee was approached regarding two possible locations; one more visible and accessible than the other, but less desirable in size and having other restrictions. The Melville Park Committee agreed to support the location of the Dog Park at an unused portion of the park that is high and dry, but heavily over-grown, near the entrance of the Park. During the process of site selection, the Dog Park Committee conducted a survey of the dog owners in Portsmouth to ascertain their support and potential for regular usage. The results from 449 completed surveys indicated that 86% supported having a dog park in Portsmouth and 58% of those in favor indicated that they would use it daily or several times per week. 40% would support fundraising activities.

At a regular meeting on April 25, 2014, the Town Council unanimously approved locating a dog park at this site within Melville Park, applauding the Dog Park Committee for it's thoroughness and efforts, and asking them to return to the Council with the results of their fundraising and design plans. In May, the Council authorized the Town Finance Director to set up a restricted receipt account in a local bank. This was accomplished in August at the Savings Institute Bank and Trust at 1430 East Main Road in Portsmouth where donations can be made directly to the Town of Portsmouth Dog Park Fund. Donations can also be sent to the Town Finance office made payable to the same. All donations are tax deductible and will be acknowledged by letter.