Located on a quiet street in one of San Juan's most high-priced real estate areas is Puerto Rico's one and only public dog park. Opened back in 2008, the pet park in Condado has drawn people from all over the San Juan metro area who are aware that dogs (just like humans) need to exercise and interact with one another. Back in March, when I was in New York for a visit, I noticed quite a few public parks with a fenced-off area for dogs. I lamented to a friend, also a dog-owner, the unfortunate fact that there is only one dog park in Puerto Rico. This certainly isn't something earth-shattering, as public parks are few and far between on the island.
Studies have shown that the prevalence of city parks can help improve the health of its local residents. I would venture that the same could be said for dogs. In Puerto Rico, the lack of open space for both humans and canines indicates how public health issues have been shoved to the back burner. As I've mentioned in a previous blog entry, the mistreatment of animals is notorious on the island. In addressing this issue, San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini opened El Centro de Control y Adopción de Animales (The Center for the Control and Adoption of Animals), which offers affordable vaccination and sterilization services. Hats off to Santini as well for opening the island's only public dog park, which is open everyday (except for holidays) from 7AM to 7PM. It's a wonderful place for dogs to roam and play off-leash. The park has a water fountain, benches, an agility course and even plastic bags for picking up your dog's poop. The park is very clean and very well maintained. All canines are welcome, as long as they are at least four months old and completely vaccinated.