I love Indianapolis. I really do. I mean, I chose to come back here after almost a decade on the east coast. And while there were so many great places to live in town, I chose Downtown as my residence because the city center has so much life.

This vibrancy led me to assume Downtown would have a dog park for my Wheaten Terrier Max. So, I didn’t even check on a dog park before I picked Fountain Square as my home. You see, I had lived in Washington, DC and Boston prior to moving back, and there were dog parks everywhere in those cities. DC has 12 and Boston has even more, and they have less space than Indy. So, I just assumed that there were dog parks Downtown.

I was shocked to find out there isn’t a single public dog park in downtown Indy. If I’m being really honest, I started to freak out a little bit about it and considered moving. But then I learned about the “fake dog park” on East St. (Downtown dog owners, you know what I’m talking about). Unfortunately (and probably fortunately as an accident was bound to happen at a makeshift park), that park shut because downtown needed to grow. Condos needed to go up. And I can appreciate that. I love seeing this city grow.

But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me that the one public place I could take my dog was gone. Not only did I have nowhere to take Max, but I also was out of a space to talk with fellow dog owners and to hang out with my 2-legged human friends. I know that may sound weird to non-dog owners, but here’s the thing: Dog parks are for people too. When I lived in Boston, the dog park is where Max and I went to get social. The park was where most humans with dogs went to get social.

As I watch Indy work to grow, I know the social aspect of a dog park is going to be a really important selling point for the area. For one, Indy’s best quality is its Hoosier Hospitality, and, by not having a dog park Downtown, we’re missing an easy space and place to extend that kindness to new people moving downtown. Also, and this is a pretty big “also”, new people will move downtown if there are dog parks. Here’s how I know this:

  • Approximately 42% of first-time home buyers say their dog, or their desire to have a dog, is a key factor in buying a home.
  • Nearly 1/3 of American home-owners aged 18-36 said finding a better space a dog was the primary motivator when buying a home.
  • 3/4 of Americans in their 30s have dogs.

Having a place for a dog to play is so much bigger than having a place for a dog to play. A public downtown dog park gives people the space to meet others and gives people – companies, employees, and millennials – another reason to pick downtown Indy as their place to live. That’s why the Downtown Indy Dog Park Coalition is pushing for a world-class urban bark park. We know that people – home buyers, out-of-towners, and millennials – choose their homes based on dog parks. You can call it crazy, but it’s true. And we want to help Indy grow and expand and attract and retain talent. And a downtown dog park can do this.

We know it. We’ve studied other cities. We’ve talked with folks around town. And we’ve done the research. We know a world-class urban bark park will help Downtown Indianapolis grow. We ask that if you believe a downtown dog park will help our city grow, you support us. And you can do that by writing a letter of support for a world-class urban bark park and send to the Downtown Indy Dog Park Coalition at elballard@gmail.com Downtown Indy, Inc., Visit Indy, and Fletcher Place Neighborhood Association have already written such letters, and we hope you will too.

Erica Ballard

Erica Ballard

Founder of the Indy Dog Park Coalition

Erica Ballard is the founder of the Downtown Indy Dog Park Coalition. Erica formed the Coalition, which is comprised of downtown residents from various neighborhoods, in Feb. 2017 and, together, they have been pushing for downtown dog park ever since.  Erica lives in Fountain Square with her finance Nick and their (adorable) Wheaten Terrier Max. If you have any questions about the Downtown Indy Dog Park Coalition or want to get in touch, please email her at elballard@gmail.com.