DFA Tag FAQs

What do I need to visit the Dog Beach?

You need a DFA Tag that are available from many Chicago veterinarians.

How much does the DFA Tag cost?

The current fee is $10 per dog. There are no discounts.

Lots of people don’t have DFA Tags for their dogs, why should I get One?

It’s in the rules. You can get fined up to $500. You can get barred from visiting the DFA with your dog.

How long is a DFA Tag good for?

The season each year runs from January 1 to December 31.

When can I get a tag?

You can get a tag from a participating veterinarian after they are made available by the Chicago Park District.

Where can I get a DFA Tag?

From a participating veterinarian.

What are the DFA Tag requirements?

Pursuant to regulations under the Cook County Ordinance, dog owners must show: 1. A current dog license issued by the City of Chicago, or proof that the dog has a current rabies vaccination. 2. The owner must complete a Chicago Park District Dog Friendly Area Permit Application for each dog. The owner shall provide written proof acceptable to the Park District showing that a licensed veterinarian (or other authorized person) has performed a fecal test for parasites and vaccinated any dog entering a DFA for the following diseases unless an exemption to this requirement has been granted by the Administrator upon the written recommendation from the Owner’s veterinarian: a. Distemper b. Hepatitis c. Para influenza; and d. Parvovirus e. Bordetella f. Leptospirosis (Current titers where applicable will also be acceptable) After issuance of a permit, the dog owner is responsible for keeping immunizations a thru f above current. 3. The owner must agree to abide by the Chicago Park District Rules and Regulations of a Dog Friendly Area. 4. The current fee is $10.

Do I have to be a resident to get a DFA Tag?

No, but you still need to get a DFA tag from a participating veterinarian.

Are there visitor or day passes?

No. Everyone needs a DFA Tag for their dog.

Who enforces the DFA Tag rules?

The Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control will enforce DFA tag rules and regulations and issue tickets to violators. Violators, along with the Chicago Park District, will face a possible fine of $500. The Chicago Park District does not enforce the tag rule.

Why do I need to have a DFA Tag for my dog?

Pursuant to a regulation issued by the Administrator of the Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control, all dogs entering a DFA must have a permit and registration tag from a licensed veterinarian. People who bring dogs into a Chicago Park District DFA must have both a permit with them and a registration tag for each dog. The registration tag must be on the dog’s collar or harness. The permit and registration tag may be used at any officially sanctioned Chicago Park District DFA. The tag helps other users of the Dog Friendly Areas be comfortable that your dog is healthy and helps you to see that their dog is healthy.

General FAQs

I’m from out of town, do I need permit to visit the dog beach?

Yes. You don’t have to be a resident of Chicago to use the Dog Beach, but you do have to follow the same rules as everyone, including getting a DFA tag. You need to contact one of the vets on the Participating Veterinarian list and ask what they require to issue a tag. Most vets will want you to make an appointment to review your vaccination records, and insure your dog is healthy. You can use the rabies tag and town registration from your town instead of getting a Chicago Dog license. There are no special visitor or day passes.

Why doesn’t the fence always keep the dogs inside the DFA?

The beach is a natural area. The level of the lake and the sandy beach are affected by every storm and other acts of nature.

Is Montrose Dog Beach the only legal dog beach in the city?

No, there are also Beach DFAs at Belmont, Foster, and soon on the Southside. Mondog is not associated with any of the other DFAs.

What’s all that green stuff on the beach?

That green stuff is algae. It comes in with the tide. During the summer months the big beach sweepers clear the algee away but in the off season it’s allowed to build up along the beach front. It full of nutritional food for birds, making Montrose Beach an important rest stop for migrating birds

Is the beach fully fenced in?

No. The Dog Beach is fenced in on two sides with the lake making the third, but it is not impenetrable. There are gaps in fences and gates that enterprising dogs can get through. Additionally sometimes the fence doesn’t run all the way into the lake. Depending on water levels and sand build up, there may be a gap of a couple feet or more between the waters edge and the end of the fence. That’s why it’s important that your dog is trained before he comes to the beach, and that you keep your eye’s on your dog at all times.

How much does it cost to use the dog beach?

There in no fee to use the Dog Beach. However you are required to have a DFA tag that is good at any of Chicago’s Dog Parks. The tag itself will cost you $10, plus a vet visit.

What can I do to help?

The easiest thing you can do to help is to be a good and responsible member of the beach comminity. Take the initiative to clean up messes and trash that aren’t yours. Appraise new beach users of the rules, and the ways of the beach. Lend a hand, or an extra bag, when someone is in need. Most importantly set a good example for others by following the rules, and being responsible for your dogs. And of course, we always need donations. By donating your time or funds, you help keep Montrose Dog Beach clean, safe, and legal!

Is there parking at the dog beach

Yes. There is a very small paid parking lot at the entrance to the ramp. It’s divided up between handicapped and regular parking, and it’s hard to get a spot there. There is ample street parking. During the busy summer weekends it can be difficult to find parking during peak hours, so come early, or come late. Street parking is still free, for now.

What is a swim ban?

A red flag means there is a swim ban in effect, and swimming is prohibited. A swim ban may occur if weather conditions are dangerous or there may be a risk of illness based on monitoring for bacteria in the water. Typically a swim ban will be in effect for an entire day. The Park District monitors the water quality for people, not dogs. Typically during a swim ban your dog will be allowed in the water, but you may not be allowed in the water to your knees, or not at all. Keep in mind just because your dog is allowed in the water, it doesn’t mean it’s safe for him. Rasised levels of bacteria can also effect your dog.

When is the dog beach open?

The beach is open 365 days a year from 6:00 AM until 11:00 PM.

Can I bring food on the dog beach?

No! Food on the beach can lead to aggressive dog behavior.

Who do I contact if I want to have an event at the dog beach?

The Chicago Park District.

Can I walk my dog on the people side of the beach?

No. Dogs are not allowed on the people side of Montrose Beach or any other beach, on or off leash. You can get ticketed for it.