EDGEWATER — Lake Michigan swallowed Foster Avenue Dog Beach beach whole over the last few years, and dog owners say they need the city to throw them a bone.
Dan Luna, Ald. Harry Osterman's (48th) chief of staff, said his office was "looking into alternative locations for dog-friendly areas in the ward," but in the meantime residents say they're not sure what to do.
"The lack of dog-friendly enclosed areas is definitely a problem," said Mila Farbstein, an owner of two large mixed-breed dogs.
Rising lake waters slowly washed away the once fenced-off dog-friendly area designated by the Chicago Park District and fully submerged the popular beach, leaving dog owners up the creek.
The Park District has no other dog-friendly parks in Edgewater.
Makeshift dog parks have been established elsewhere throughout the neighborhood, like on the front lawn at Senn High School (where a pre-fame Keegan-Michael Key used to bring his pet when the actor lived in Edgewater).
Enclosed areas, like basketball and tennis courts behind Senn, also have become popular spots for dog owners whose pets play better solo.
"I very much wish there were other options, especially because my dogs are not always dog-friendly, so I am not comfortable taking them off leash at Senn," Farbstein said. "I wish there were areas that I could take them off leash that were enclosed in which I could use during times when other pups weren't around."
Lela Odom, a member of the Senn Dogs Facebook group, said despite it being an unofficial park, she was "grateful" for the dog setup at Senn.
Taking her dog for walks and runs doesn't provide the same benefits as letting her pet romp in an open area, she said.
"Me running my dog will never have the same effect as what he gets from jumping and chasing the ball on the soft grass," she wrote.
How Foster Dog Beach looks today, boarded-up and completely submerged. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]
Jill Carey, owner of a spry male Vizsla, said she never used Foster Dog Beach much because of its ever-shrinking size and the number of small dogs using it, but said there was a lack of dog parks and waste bag dispensers in the area in general.
She said large dogs would often swim over to the adjacent people side of Foster Beach, a trend that's continued as the beach shrunk further and further.
Just north of Devon Avenue at Schreiber Park, neighbors also said they frequently used two different enclosed spaces to let their dogs run — something they haven't been able to do since the fence's entrance gates were removed, creating a gap in the formerly enclosed park.
The Park District did not respond to requests for comment.
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