Southeastern San Diego’s first dog park brings new services for people and pets

With leashes unclipped, some of Logan Heights’ resident pups can now romp around freely for the first time at the new Memorial Dog Park, the first dog park created in the city south of state Route 94.

The park will be more than just an area for play. It will serve as a hub where residents and their pets can receive much-needed support and resources — including low-cost veterinary care, as part of a new San Diego Humane Society program offering services across San Diego.

San Diego leaders gathered at the park last week to celebrate the park’s opening. “The completion of the Memorial Dog Park — the first dog park in District 8 — brings a safe space for dogs and their families to come together for recreation, exercise and assistance,” said Councilmember Vivian Moreno.

Pets in under-resourced communities often do not receive essential veterinary services like vaccinations, spay or neuter surgeries and dental care, according to the San Diego Humane Society, whose Resource Center receives about 50 calls per day from pet owners seeking information about accessing low- cost veterinary services.

“While the need for veterinary care in our community is great, there is a significant gap between the number of accessible, low-cost service providers and the human population of San Diego County — especially in underserved areas,” said Geraldine D’Silva, director of community veterinary services at the Humane Society. “As a result, countless pet owners face barriers that make it virtually impossible for them to access veterinary care.”

To change that, the Humane Society is launching a new community veterinary program next month.

Memorial Dog Park will be just one of many locations in neighborhoods with limited access that the Humane Society’s mobile veterinary services unit will visit each month to provide on-site care.

Dogs run around at the new Memorial Dog Park in Logan Heights on Friday, July 22, 2022.

(Courtesy of the Office of Councilmember Vivian Moreno)

Starting Aug. 20, the mobile clinics will come to the Memorial Dog Park once a month to offer up to 19 appointments per day, as well as walk-ins. Stationary clinics will also be set up at the Humane Society’s four San Diego campuses twice a week.

At each site, clinic staff will be able to provide pet exams, vaccinations, flea medications, and other medical services and wellness resources, for conditions ranging from ear infections to dermatitis.

The program will also provide low-cost spay or neuter services, as well as vouchers to help defray the cost of veterinary care when pets are sick or injured that their owners can redeem at partner veterinary clinics.

This will be the Humane Society’s first medical team to focus exclusively on providing services to pets owned by members of the community, rather than shelter animals. With a $100,000 grant from PetSmart Charities, the organization expects the program to help 10,000 pets and owners in need of veterinary services.

Memorial Dog Park will also host other community programs, including food drives for pets and people in need, and future high school students at the new Logan Memorial Educational Campus will use the park to learn about careers with animals.

For years, community members have been calling on the city to make much-needed improvements to Memorial Park. Although more work is needed, Logan Heights resident Tammey Ruiz said the dog park is a step in the right direction.

“I live in an apartment, so I’m at this park on a daily basis,” Ruiz said as she watched her 6-year-old golden retriever, Walter, run around with the other dogs at the park. “I used to have to travel so far to other parks where I could let him off-leash, but now he gets to socialize with other dogs and run around right in our neighborhood, which is awesome.”

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