The Congressional Cemetery Dogwalking Program allows members to walk their dogs off-leash throughout more than 35 acres of fenced property located at 1801 E Street in Southeast DC. This is a rare opportunity for city dogs to have so much space to roam free. Of course, there are other dog parks within the District, but few, if any, can boast 35 acres.
In the mid 1990’s a group of neighbors, who walked their dogs in Congressional Cemetery, started charging themselves to help defray the cost of mowing the grass. The group became official in 2007.
Membership in the Congressional Cemetery Dogwalking Program lasts one year from March 1 through February of the next year. The waiting list opens on January 15, but sometimes spots become available in the middle of the year and are offered to the next person on the waiting list. Current members are allowed to renew their memberships between December 15 and January 15. After January 15, spots are offered to new members.
Membership for the Congressional Cemetery Dogwalking Program requires a $225 tax-deductible donation per household. There is an additional $50 fee per dog, with a maximum of three dogs per household. Registered members must attend a K9 orientation in the Chapel. Members are also expected to volunteer at least 12 hours each year for a range of activities including gardening, tree removal, spring cleanup, archiving, or hosting an event. Events include dog-friendly activities like “Yappy Hours” during the spring, photos with Santa, and the Blessing of the Animals in October.
Not only do dogs have freedom to roam, the Historic Congressional Cemetery also benefits from the program. The membership dues for the Dogwalking Program cover about a quarter of the operating expenses of the Historic Congressional Cemetery and help to maintain the grounds and assist with administrative costs. The presence of owners and their dogs also creates a virtual patrol of the historic burial ground, making it a less likely target of vandalism.
Registration for 2013 membership is closed, but prospective members can always add their names to the waiting list. So sign up online to reserve your spot in the Congressional Cemetery Dogwalking Program!