Rules for pets in Florida state parks

Rules for pets in Florida state parks

Florida’s beautiful state parks are a fun and educational place to take the whole household, including the furry member of the family.

According to Florida State Parks, “Pets are permitted in designated day-use areas in most Florida State Parks, with the exception of, but not limited to, Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.”

The information below is from the Florida State Parks’ website:

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General State Park Rules:

- Pets must be well-behaved and kept on a hand-held leash that is 6 feet or shorter.

- Pet owners are required to pick up after their pets and properly dispose of the droppings.

- Pets are not permitted on beaches or playgrounds, bathing areas, cabins, park buildings or concession facilities. Individual parks might have specific areas prohibiting pets.

Service Animal Policies:

Florida's state parks welcomes service animals. The state parks’ pet policy applies to service animals, with the following exemptions:

- Service animals in a working capacity are allowed in public areas of the park when accompanied by a visitor with a disability.

- Service animals should be harnessed, leashed or tethered unless such devices interfere with the animal’s work, or if the visitor’s disability prevents the use of these devices. If that is the case, the visitor must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal or other effective control method.

“We understand that service animals may need recreational breaks; therefore, if a service animal is not working (e.g., running around, playing fetch, etc.), it is only permitted at designated pet locations.” - Florida State Parks.

Pet Camping Rules:

- All pets must be confined, leashed or under the physical control of a person at all times. The rule does not apply to horses and pack animals brought in for equestrian trail use.

- In the campgrounds, pets must be confined in the owner's camping unit during the designated quiet time hours of 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.

- At other times, pets can be left unattended on the owner's campsite for no more than 30 minutes and must be leashed.

- Noisy, vicious or dangerous pets that are disturbing or intimidating park visitors or other pets, or which damage park resources, are considered to be nuisances and will not be permitted to remain in the park.

- Pets such as reptiles, birds or fish, must be confined or under the physical control of the owner. Some animals might be prohibited on park property. Captive wild species, whether native or nonnative and barnyard animals, except horses, are prohibited.

- The number of pets allowed varies by park, depending on the campsite types and buffer zones available, but cannot exceed four.

- All pets must be vaccinated as per Florida law. However, owners do not need written proof of vaccination when registering to camp.

- Upon request, equestrians are required to provide proof of negative Coggins test (EIA test) for each horse on areas administered by the division. The policy also applies to miniature horses that are service animals.

- Pets are not allowed at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park because of the captive wildlife. However, the park provides complimentary self-service kennels at the main entrance on U.S. 19 for visitors traveling with pets. Service animals are welcome in all areas of the park, where visitors are normally allowed.

“Failure to abide by these rules could result in the camper being asked to board the pet outside the park or check out of the campground. Pets are not allowed in any state park cabins or cabin areas.”