WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- Parks where dogs can run around freely without a leash are a fast-growing add-on to city parks in the United States, a study by the Trust for Public Land shows.
The study found there were 569 off-leash dog parks in the 100 largest cities in 2010, which represents a 34 percent increase in the past five years, USA Today reported Thursday. The number of parks overall grew by only 3 percent in the same time.
"There was a playground movement 100 years ago," said Peter Harnik, director of the Center for City Park Excellence at The Trust for Public Land. "In the last 15 to 20 years, it's these off-leash dog areas. There's a tremendous upsurge in demand and love for them."
The study showed the number of households with dogs outnumbered the those with children, 42 million to 38 million.
Dog owners, who have proven to be a powerful lobbying group, say dog parks have become the equivalent of playgrounds, the report said.
"It's socializing for both" the dogs and the owners, said Maria Goodavage, a dog owner and founder and writer of the "Dog Lover's Companion" series.
"I met my husband in a dog area," she said.
"These children of ours are furry, they have four legs but we're still paying taxes to be here and we still want our recreational needs met."