Pet Walking

Man Walking Dog

The refuge welcomes all visitors and their furry family members. We understand that wild spaces are rare within urban areas and for those reasons, we extend our invitation to both visitors and their well-behaved and leashed pets.

Know Before You Go 

  • Alligators, venomous snakes, biting insects, toxic plants, and sensitive habitats exist at the Refuge. Always keep a close eye on your pet. Avoid areas with tall vegetation, walk in the center of trails, and keep your pet close to you. Keep pets away from the water’s edge and do not allow them to swim anywhere on the Refuge.
  • Plan for your needs. Visitors should dress appropriately for the weather, bring plenty of water, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a first aid kit.
  • Plan for your pet’s needs. Pet owners should use a reflective collar or harness with a leash, bring a small amount of food or treats, collapsible water bowl with water, and bags for pet waste.
  • Visitors and their pets will be sharing multi-use trails with hikers, bicyclists, vehicles, and other pet walkers. When approaching other trail users, tighten up your pet’s leash and keep them close by. It is a small action, but not everyone may love your pet as much as you do. Do not allow your pet to bark or harass other visitors. 


Rules and Regulations 

  • Unconfined domestic animals are prohibited at the Refuge. Pets must be confined or on a leash no longer than six feet at all times.
  • Pets are welcome in vehicles and on watercraft, at all boat ramp parking lots, and on the perimeter levees. Pets are not permitted in the A, B, or C Impoundments.
  • All pet owners are responsible for properly disposing of their pet’s waste.
  • Visitors may bring a maximum of two pets during their visit.
  • Pets may be restricted in some areas during events, or due to management-related activities.
  • Pets that are not permitted on the refuge include all animals listed as Prohibited Nonnative Wildlife or Conditional Nonnative Species by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission or listed as Injurious Wildlife by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • These rules and regulations do not impose restrictions on Service Animals.


Why does my pet have to be on a leash?

Respect the Resource

This regulation is in place to protect the wildlife and natural resources that you have come to see and enjoy. Pets, are natural predators to many of the wildlife species that live here at the Refuge. Also, pets may leave trails that destroy the homes of ground-nesting birds, put stress on small mammals, destroy plants, leave feces, and are susceptible to and can spread diseases and viruses through wildlife encounters.

Respect Your Fellow Visitor
Not everyone likes pets. A pet on a leash shows that you are in control of your pet, and that you respect those who wish to keep their distance from your pet. Some visitors may be afraid of some pets. Even a friendly pet running up to someone can be very distressing and cause them to have a negative experience, or cause them to act out of fear and injure your pet. Whether intentional or not, your pet could bite, knock over, or injure someone.

National wildlife refuges are places where wildlife come first. Please help protect wildlife and their homes by respecting Refuge rules and regulations. If a high number of reports of negative pet-wildlife or pet-people interactions are reported, the Refuge will stop the use.

Please report all suspicious activity or violations of the law to Federal Wildlife Officers by calling 1-800-307-5789.

Failure to respect the Refuge regulations and your fellow visitors can result in a citation and fine: 50 CFR 26.21(b) and/or 50 CFR 27.51(a). As well as impoundment and/or destruction of the animal: 50 CFR 28.43.