Your donations to FETCH! will help to ensure that Whidbey Island's off-leash areas continue to thrive. Donations to FETCH! are greatly appreciated and go directly to supporting safe, high quality off-leash parks where our beloved canine friends can run, jump and cavort safely. FETCH! is a volunteer-run organization and all donations go 100 percent to promoting and improving our off-leash areas and communicating with our members, the wider Whidbey community and visitors to the island. Donations pay for poop bags, materials and supplies for park imporvements, our web site, newsletter, postage, printing, phone line and educational brochures and materials. If your company offers matching donations you can also contribute through your workplace. Our Federal ID# is 91-1986601.
The best way to ensure that FETCH! parks are well maintained is to volunteer. FETCH! is always looking for volunteers, particularly in the summer months. Each of our five parks has maintenance work days where volunteer help is always needed. Volunteers are also needed to staff an information table at Double Bluff on the weekends. If you are interested in volunteering in any capacity for FETCH! please contact us at the phone or email listed above so we can add your name to our volunteer list.
FETCH! (Free Exercise Time for Canines and their Humans!) is a grassroots nonprofit organization whose purpose is to work with Island County officials to establish and maintain off-leash parks on Whidbey Island. FETCH! is devoted to promoting safe, responsible off-leash play time for dogs and their people.
This pack of canine enthusiasts has worked with dogged determination to create and maintain five beautiful off-leash parks where their canine companions can romp, play, chase balls and cavort safely and without flouting the county-wide leash law or annoying their neighbors. FETCH! was founded in 1998 and currently has approximately 450 dues-paying members and about twice that many barking, tail wagging members. FETCH! has grown and matured into a well-known and respected Island County organization.
Except for the beach park (at Double Bluff), all FETCH! parks are fenced - allowing dogs to play safely and guardians to relax and socialize. All FETCH! parks provide doggie poop bags and a mix of amenities that include picnic tables, shelters, a rinse station, portable toilets and sheltered bulletin boards. Periodic work parties staffed by FETCH! volunteers assure that the parks are maintained in good condition.
FETCH! is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization and depends on dues and donations to maintain and improve its five parks. We publish a bi-yearly newsletter, host fund raisers and hold work parties to maintain and improve Whidbey Island's off-leash parks. FETCH! hopes to encourage everyone who uses the park to join. Growing our membership helps us to grow our credibility with the Island County Parks Department and the wider Whidbey community, and provides a unified voice when addressing issues with local government bodies.
We hope you'll take some time to explore our web site and learn more about FETCH!'s canines and humans. Our site offers detailed information about each FETCH! off-leash park, FETCH! history, current FETCH! news and links to canine-relevant information on Whidbey Island and the greater Puget Sound region.
FETCH! (Free Exercise Time for Canines and Their Humans) was conceived in 1998 when 81-year-old Margaret Kuehn was "more or less arrested" for allowing her dog to run off-leash at Double Bluff Beach, an undeveloped stretch of rugged beach on Whidbey Island.
The impulse from that run-in with the law motivated Kuehn to start a petition drive to have a portion of Double Bluff Beach designated as a leash-free zone. The drive gained momentum when Kuehn was joined by Patricia Buchanan, a volunteer at WAIF, the local animal shelter. More canine advocates and activists joined the cause, sacrificing free time, weekends and evenings to write letters, encourage people to sign petitions and to attend county council meetings.
Ultimately their hard work paid off. In 1999, the Island County commissioners agreed to a one-year trial of the beach at Double Bluff. FETCH! board members and volunteers began an educational program encouraging the responsible use of the newly designated off-leash beach. Dog guardians were urged to clean up after their pets and to keep their dogs leashed until they were inside the boundary of the off-leash area. During the trial period, County Commissioner Mike Shelton sent a note to then FETCH! President, Patricia Buchanan:
"I just wanted you all to know that since this program has gone into effect I have not had one complaint. I had many phone calls from people telling me what a mistake it was to allow dogs off-leash at Double Bluff. I developed a standard answer which is, 'People are currently using the beach as an off-leash area anyway and I expect that problems currently being experienced will be rectified by FETCH! oversight.' My hat off to you all because not one of these people has called a second time after the ordinance took effect. I believe that is because of your diligence. Thanks!!"
At the end of the trial year, county commissioners voted to make the Double Bluff Beach off-leash area permanent. They also designated two other off-leash parks to be placed under FETCH! stewardship: Marguerite Brons Memorial Park: 13 acres of fenced meadow and wooded trails in Bayview (South Whidbey) and Patmore Pit, 40 acres of partially fenced meadow and woods in Coupeville (mid-Whidbey).
A couple of years later, due to the tireless efforts of FETCH! board members Jon and Lori Matteson, two off-leash parks were opened in Oak Harbor (North Whidbey): Oak Harbor Dog Park at the end of Technical Road and the Clover Valley Dog Park.
These days, Whidbey Island dogs have plenty to bark and wag about with five off-leash parks scattered across the island from north to south.