Ruff neighborhoods: Minneapolis to add three off-leash dog parks

As a recent college graduate, Dan Schned has neither the time nor the money to care for a dog. That hasn't kept him from spending the last year crusading to make Minneapolis a safe space for hounds.

Schned has spearheaded the effort to build three small off-leash dog parks ringing downtown, one of which, in Loring Park, will break ground this Monday, May 21.

It all started early last year, when complaints began pouring in from North Loop residents about bad dog owners in their midst. "There is too much doggy doo on our sidewalks," and "an epidemic of peeing in the streets," the complainers told their elected leaders, more or less.

City Councilwoman Lisa Goodman listened to the concerns, pondered, then flipped the script. The owners aren't naughty by nature, she reasoned, it's the lack of doggable acreage near their homes that is making them so.

"It became this really obvious problem," she says.

Enter Schned, a bright-eyed aspiring city planner fresh out of Macalester. Goodman hired him to make it all better. And so he has. He set up a non-profit, Dog Grounds, to work with the parks department, the city, developers and dog-loving donors. In addition to the Loring Park run, set to open sometime in late June, there will eventually be one in Elliot Park and another in the North Loop.

For Schned, the additions mean Minneapolis might crack the "top ten dog friendly cities," as determined by the venerable

"I think this project might be enough to get us on that list and get us some real national attention in terms of being dog friendly," Schned says.

Now if only he could do something for those hidden beachless nude bathers.