By Mike Steely

If you’ve recently moved to Knox County or if you just got your first dog you may be wondering where you can take it and let it play. If you’re lucky enough to have a fenced back yard then you can at least let the animal loose there.

House animals need to be outdoors at least part of the time and that’s especially true for dogs. They are curious and active beings that like to roam and venture. Even if you have a fenced yard you will learn that dogs also like to play with their owners and other dogs.

“No person owning or having possession, charge, care, custody or control of any animal shall cause, permit or allow the animal to stray or in any manner to run at large in or upon any public street, sidewalk or park or upon the property of another.”

That’s the law in Knox County.

So, where is there in our area that permits active play and lets dogs run without a leash?

How about a public park with large, fenced-in open spaces for dogs and benches for owners? Interested?

Knoxville and Knox County have seven Dog Parks that feature the open spaces where your dog can run and water fountains and benches for you. Some even have separate areas for small and large breeds and all but one of these canine-friendly parks are within existing people parks except one.

Tommy Shumpert Dog Park is located in North Knox County next to the Sterchi Hills subdivisions. The section of the large park reserved for dogs has two fenced sections. The large dog area has a mulched walking trail and a large pond with a dock where your dog can swim. The main park has a walking trail where you can walk your leashed dog and the trail connects with the Sterchi Hills Greenway.

Victor Ashe Park is located between Pleasant Ridge Road and Western Avenue. The park is just off Bradshaw Road. It features one acre with hardwood trees and your dog can enjoy ramps, tunnels and jumps there. On leash you and your pet can enjoy the 120 acres there along a 1.5 mile natural trail.

PetSafe Village Dog Park, Knoxville’s first such park, is a one-acre space that is on-leash but also has off-leash hours in the evenings when the park is staffed. The park has a natural pond, a full set of agility equipment, walking trails and picnic tables. The facility is located off Dutchtown Road, on Cogdill Road.

Concord Park has one of the newest dog parks in the area. The dog area has almost four acres and features a dock with access to the water plus a dog shower. Paved and natural surface walking areas invite you to bring your pet. The park is located behind the tennis courts by the Concord Mountain Bike Trails.

The PetSafe Charter Doyle Dog Park is located on West Millertown Pike off Chapman Highway. It has two areas for large and small dogs. There are also trails for on-leash walking.

The PetSafe Downtown Dog Park is primarily for downtown dog owners and their pets. It also has two sections for large or small dogs, water fountains for both you and your dog, and a variety of fun play stations. It is located at 200 South Central.

Holston River’s Dog Park is located at 3300 Holston Hills and features a one-acre dog area and two sections for the size of the dogs. You can leash your pet and enjoy a walk along the river as it winds its way along the park.

All the parks have dog waste stations and a courteous pet owner should always clean up after their pets. All of the Knoxville and Knox County Parks and Greenways are open to leashed dogs. The Tennessee Izaak Walton League has partnered with the parks to place the waste stations here and there as needed. You can sponsor a waste station by calling the League at (865)414-5590.

PetSafe is a subsidiary of Radio Systems Corporation off Cogdill Road at 1-427 PetSafe Way. The corporation is the largest manufacturer of electronic pet training products in the nation and has sales in 52 countries. They manufacture a variety of products including invisible fencing, pet drinking fountains, Premier Pet Products and Innotek training products. In Knox County the corporation has partnered with the city, county, and other concerns to fund the dog parks.

PetSafe supports not only dog parks but rescue missions, adoption services and many other efforts. Employees at PetSafe may bring their dogs to work with them.

In 2011 Dog Fancy Magazine named Knoxville the “Dog Town USA City” for the Southeast.