Pet-Friendly Community

Pets in Parks Ordinance

The new Pets in Parks Ordinance began July 1, 2020. Leashed dogs and cats are permitted in most Dubuque parks, parkways, trails, and open spaces. 

There are a number of exceptions. Dogs and cats are NOT allowed in the following areas:

  • Buildings or facilities within parks which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places,
  • Bunker Hill Golf Course,
  • Eagle Point Park,
  • Flora Park Swimming Pool,
  • Marshall Park and Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens,
  • Murphy Park,
  • Nicholas J. Sutton Swimming Pool,  
  • Veterans Memorial Plaza within the Gerald “Red” McAleece Park and Recreation Complex,
  • fenced-in sporting areas, including, but not limited to, courts, fields, rinks, arenas, and skate parks, and
  • on playground and recreational areas designed for use by children.

Those exceptions do not apply to service animals used by persons with disabilities, animals present as part of an approved and permitted special event, and animals confined to a vehicle during the entirety of their time within Marshall Park and Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, Eagle Point Park, and Murphy Park (so long as the owner is compliant with the state code related to the safety and health of the animal). 

Pet Owner Responsibilities

Pet owners or keepers are liable/responsible for the actions of their dogs and cats, thus must pick up and dispose of or take away the pet’s waste. Pet owners need to bring their own pet waste bags along on their park or trail visit and dispose of the waste bag in the closest garbage receptacle. Any unleashed or unattended animal in a park, parkway, trail, or open space will be impounded. Violations may be reported to the City of Dubuque Animal Control staff during normal working hours at 563.589.4185. After hours, please call Non-Emergency Police Dispatch at 563.589.4415.

Unleashed Dogs Allowed in the Pet Park and at Bergfeld Ponds

Unleashed dogs are permitted in the Pet Park. They are also allowed at John G. Bergfeld Recreation Area ponds, but only when an owner or keeper is working or exercising a dog by tossing a retrieval dummy or other object into a pond for out-and-back exercise. At all other times the dog must be leashed at the Bergfeld Recreation Area.


Pet-Friendly Community Survey Results

The Park and Recreation Commission created a survey to collect feedback regarding the proposed ordinance change. The survey was available to the public from January 2-17, 2020. 

Pet-Friendly Community: A Dubuque City Council High Priority

The City Council, at their 2018 goal setting session, adopted Pet-Friendly Community: Policy Direction and Actions as a Policy Agenda High Priority for 2018-2020.

The 2017 Imagine Dubuque Comprehensive Plan also contains recommendations related to pet-friendly community.   

  • Re-evaluate the Parks and Recreation Plan, potentially through a strategic update or addendum, to identify opportunities to provide flexible, programmable space; improve active recreation connectivity in neighborhoods; and enhance Dubuque’s “dog-friendliness.”
  • Evaluate and revise, as appropriate, the dog-related policies for all of Dubuque’s park and recreation facilities.

In November 2018, the City Council approved creation of a Pet-Friendly Community Action Plan based off of the US Conference of Mayors’ Pet-Friendly City Assessment.  The Pet-Friendly Community work group includes six (6) City staff members, a Park and Recreation Advisory Commission representative, a representative of Friendly Intelligent Dog Owners (FIDO), a knowledgeable individual on the issue who might provide a different perspective than FIDO, a representative from the Humane Society and a person who is involved in the pet businesses. The agendas of the meetings are on the links provided. 

The City of Dubuque Park and Recreation Commission, which serves in an advisory role to the City Council, proposed an ordinance recommendation to the City Council.  The City Council approves any changes to the current ordinance.