Fort Matanzas Bark Ranger

Image of a dog on leash on Fort Matanzas beach.
Bark Ranger Rey

Become a Bark Ranger

Do you like exploring Fort Matanzas with your canine friend? Review and follow the B.A.R.K. rules while visiting, say the pledge, and earn the Virtual Bark Ranger Badge!

Rules of B.A.R.K.

B = Bag Your Poop

  • Help keep Fort Matanzas clean by collecting and disposing of all dog waste. Be sure to carry the poop bag off the trail and beaches. Do not throw them into the woods or hang from trees.

  • Dog feces is not a natural fertilizer. Dogs can carry disease such as parvovirus, giardia and roundworms into the park's wildlife populations. Water sources may also be polluted by dog feces.

A = Always Wear a Leash

  • Pets must be restrained on a leash no longer than 6 feet; retractable leashes extended beyond this limit are prohibited.

  • Leashes protect dogs from becoming lost and from hazards such as sharp oysters.

  • Not everyone is a dog person no matter how friendly and well behaved your dog may be. Many people, especially children, are frightened by dogs, even small ones. Uncontrolled dogs can present a danger to other visitors. Leashes also protect the experience of other visitors who may be afraid, allergic, or who do not want a dog approaching them.

  • Unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells can disturb even the calmest, friendliest, and best-trained dog, causing them to behave unpredictably or bark excessively.

R = Respect Wildlife

  • Dogs can chase and threaten wildlife, scaring birds and other animals away from nesting, feeding, and resting sites.

  • Be especially careful around the nests of least turns and turtles.

  • The scent left behind by a dog can signal the presence of a predator, disrupting or altering the behavior of park wildlife. Small animals may hide in their burrow the entire day after smelling a dog and may not venture out to feed.

  • Please keep your dog at a respectful distance from any animals you may encounter.

K = Know Where To Go

  • Pets should not be left unattended. Summer sunshine poses a threat to pets in vehicles. Don't leave pets alone in a car or tied to an object while visiting.

  • The following areas are closed or restricted to pets with the exception of service animals:

  • All public buildings, including the Visitor Center.

  • Ranger-led boat program and tour of the fort.

  • Dunes and nesting areas that are closed to park visitors to protect wildlife nesting.

Safety Reminders:

  • Have you considered your pet in all your preparations? With a little preparation, you and your pet can have an enjoyable trip to the park.
  • Do you have enough water for yourself and your pet?
  • Does your pet have the endurance for the heat?
  • Summer temperatures can make the park's pavement, boardwalks, and dry sand EXTREMELY HOT. Pets have senstive paw pads that can easily be burned by these surfaces. REMEMBER: If it's too hot for your bare feet, it's too hot for theirs. If you regularly walk in hot conditions consider commercially available coverings for your best friend’s feet, they’ll be glad you did.
Image of a arrowhead. Inside it says, "Fort Matanzas Virtual Bark Ranger" and there is a second image of a paw print.
Fort Matanzas Virtual Bark Ranger Badge


You have what it takes to become an official Virtual Bark Ranger at Fort Matanzas National Monument! All that's left is to read the Bark Ranger Pledge:

"As a B.A.R.K. Ranger, I promise to Bag my pet’s waste, Always leash my pet, Respect wildlife, and Know where we can go."

Right-click on the badge image and save it to your computer or device. You save, print, or share from there.

Fort Matanzas National Monument

Last updated: May 13, 2020