There were some comments this spring on the city blog and other social media about dogs in the city parks, and a long April 5 TVN story covered the issues caused by owners who ignore the ban on dogs in most Grandview parks. Mayor DeGraw was quoted saying “Pierce Field is a zero-tolerance park (for dogs) to me because it is the park most used by the youngest members of the community”. There was some discussion of new signage and possibly stiffer fines, but the discussion has not resulted in changes yet.
On a recent nice day at Pierce Field I encountered a dozen or so kids, a few parents sitting under the shelter or playing on the equipment with their kids. And one guy that appeared to be in his early twenties, with no kids and two dogs on the leash. I couldn’t see anything in his hands or pockets that looked like bags for cleaning up after the dogs.
I decided to ask him just why he was there, and what he knew about the rules for dogs at the parks.
I didn’t know
Some dog owners have a sense of entitlement, and don’t react well to being told the rules. I tried to keep it light – asked him how he was doing, etc. When I asked him if he knew that dogs are banned from the park, he expressed what seemed like genuine surprise. I told him that dogs in the parks are a hot issue right now, and that he would probably have an encounter with the cops if he continued to bring his dogs to the park.
The young man argued that he had seen lots of dogs at the park in the past, and that if the rules had changed, it must have been recently. I couldn’t say when the dog ban started, but I knew it was years ago. He also said that he had never seen signs banning dogs, and although there are a number of them, the “no dogs” is at the bottom of a lot of other text. Maybe we need some big signs with the circle-backslash symbol over the dog icon.
This TVN story from 2012 says that dogs were banned from Pierce Field, Wyman Woods, McKinley Field and Buck Park. So dogs have not been allowed since at least that year. The old story contained almost the same elements as this year’s article – exasperation with dog owners who don’t pick up after their dogs, calls for better enforcement, and a side comment about a dog park that never gets built.
Let’s tell the dog owners to stay out
I would guess my discussion with the young man will have no long term results. I’m just one cranky old man, and I spend very little time in the parks.
Most of the stories I read in social media about dogs in the parks express some level of anger about the irresponsible owners, but I have not read “I asked the owner to follow the rules and keep the dog out of the park”. Passive aggressive seems to be common.
How about if we all try a little non-passive education for these dog owners? Walk up, tell them the rules. You are not being a Goody Two-shoes, you are protecting the kids from potential dog bites.
Helen Lovejoy – “Won’t somebody please think of the children?”
I’m not suggesting that will be the only solution – obviously the city can do more, starting with better signage.
(Later) Dogs in parks were discussed at the June 6, 2016 city council meeting. The are supposed to put better signs up (and let dogs have use of the paths in Buck park and Wyman Woods).