Rat sightings and complaints have been on the rise throughout the pandemic, and over the past year, cases of leptospirosis, a bacterial disease spread by rats, have been ticking up in New York City among both humans and dogs. Recently, several dogs have died from allegedly catching the disease after visiting the McCarren Park dog run in Williamsburg, and although the Department of Health is still investigating those deaths (the cases are currently unconfirmed), they worked with the Parks Department this week to make some immediate improvements at the popular Brooklyn dog run.

This work included improving the drainage, installing rodent resistant garbage cans, and applying new mulch and top soil, which they are continuing to do throughout the week (the dog run will be closed until sometime next week, as a storm moves in that may delay additional work). An exterminator has also been on-site, and will continue to monitor the area weekly. However, the Department of Health determined the dog run did not have a serious rat infestation.  

The Parks Department oversees 84 public dog runs throughout the city, and while they would not comment on whether they would be rolling out the recent improvements at McCarren Park to other dog runs they oversee, they told WNYC/Gothamist that many already feature recently reconstructed drainage systems.

With some of these dog runs better maintained than others and/or more spacious, we're asking for your help to identify the best and worst public dog runs across the five boroughs. (Note: There are also dozens of private dog runs, but we're only looking at those managed by the city.)

Email us at tips@gothamist.com (subject line: Rate Your Dog Run) or @Gothamist on Twitter using the hashtag #RateYourDogRun and include: the name, location, and neighborhood of your dog park, a photo (if you have one), and a letter grade you would give your dog park (A, B, C, D, F), along with some details as to why you chose that grade.

WHAT WOULD YOU RATE YOUR LOCAL NYC DOG RUN?

We want to know what is or isn't working about the city's dog runs, so there's a lot of factors to think about.

  • How well-maintained is your dog run?
  • Is it particularly dusty and gross, or is it made of newer materials?
  • Is the topsoil or mulch replaced regularly?
  • Is there much involvement from the community in maintaining it, and are there cleanup efforts or special events on weekends?
  • How much space does your local dog run give your pup to move around, and are there areas to separate small and big dogs?
  • Are there any extra play options for your dog, such as tennis balls or frisbees?
  • Are there water features, such as a tub for bathing?
  • Does your dog run tend to flood in rain or snow?
  • Are there available trash cans and free doggy bags?
  • Have you spotted rodents at your dog run, and if so, how frequently?

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

To help keep your dogs safe and your park looking nice:

  • Clean up after your dog
  • Do not let your dog drink from puddles (which could contain rat urine, which is how leptospirosis is transmitted)
  • Get your dog vaccinated for leptospirosis
  • If your dog has leptospirosis symptoms, bring that very good boy/girl to the vet (and vets, please report any cases to the Health Department)
  • If you want to report an issue with your dog run, you can do so by contacting Parks.