Private Dog Parks

privateIt’s been a while since I’ve posted here, preferring to just let the Internet do what it does best, but I’ve received some comments on the blog and questions regarding the trend toward private dog parks. This is a good thing for a number of reasons.

First, responsible dog owners and people of good sense are coming to understand that public entities do a terrible job of creating and running dog parks. Animal Control agencies, particularly those affiliated with Police Departments, are becoming skeletal resulting in the dogs in these parks being increasingly not registered or vaccinated, incidents are poorly investigated and prosecuted, and dog-centric interest groups are succeeding in having liability suppressed for violent or otherwise out-of-control dogs.  So what can a dog owner of good will and sense do?

Private dog parks come with access granted only after agreeing to certain contractual norms established by the private organization. There are many different flavors of these kinds of parks, but they all have one thing in common: Dog owners are responsible for all behavior of their dogs, and membership is limited to those willing to agree to high standards of conduct on the part of both the owner and the dog.

Much thought has gone into these new parks, and below are some resources for getting your own park going [Google search “dog park club private”]:

So have you had your fill of the neighborhood troll showing up with his pissed off pit bull while you’re trying to exercise your corgi with some friends? Check out what others have done to protect themselves, and take action make it safe for yourself and your best friend.


“First rule of the dog park…”

We happened into a conversation with some friends who recently had a freakishly parallel experience to ours at Roseville’s Bear Dog Park.  The husband of the couple, a youngish, strongly-built firefighter, was at BDP with his wife and dog, and was rammed from behind by yet another out-of-control large dog.  His feet were knocked out from under him by the impact.  Before he could regain his feet and dust himself off, he was approached by an unknown woman who looked down at him and growled, “First rule of the dog park, keep your knees bent.”

Funny.  Yet another unwritten rule.  But now we know the FIRST one on the list.  I suppose this rule comes before another unwritten one that states, “This park puts the fun and freedom of dogs above the safety of humans, other dogs and property.” Would that be the Second Rule of the dog park?  Perhaps the Third Rule of the dog park is “Animal Control has no control of animals in this dog park, including licensing thereon.”  Fourth Rule of the dog park, “Written rules posted here are just for decoration, sort of like the bullet-hole decals on your car window.”

I’d be interested to know if any readers of this blog and users/victims of Roseville Dog Parks would like to add any other unwritten rules of which they’ve become aware.  It’s time we post the unwritten rules… next post.

Meanwhile, the phrase “First Rule of the Dog Park…” has become our family phrase for commenting on instances of the random abuse of power.  The other day, I watched a camo-painted-lifted-monster-truck-wannabe cut off a Toyota Prius at a four-way-stop intersection. “First rule of the dog park, don’t even think you have right of way over testosterone just because of a stupid traffic sign.”

First rule of the dog park, if you comment on this post, I approve it before it’s published.

Why do we like Big Dogs?

I like my big dog.  Everyone who owns a big dog likes their big dog; love them even.  Today, as I was on my way home from the vet with my elderly greyhound it occurred to me to ask the question, “Why do we like big dogs?”  OK, to be completely honest, I was thinking about this blog and the first question in my head was accusatorial: “Why do those people (irresponsible dog owners such as the one whose shepherd injured my wife) like their big dogs?”  However, I had to ask the same thing of myself to try to make sense of the $300+ I’d just left behind at the vet.

greyhound_1My greyhound came into my life because I have always enjoyed the need for speed.  I ski. I’ve wasted money on fast cars. When I joined a military service, the only choice for me was the US Air Force.  My introduction to greyhounds was not a speedy one, but a meeting in the waiting room of the Animal Medical Center in New York City.  I was charmed by the 90 pound black monster who laid his head in my lap while I waited with my ferrets in their carrier.  As I came to know these dogs, though, the aspect of this breed that I could not shake from my imagination was the shear speed of which these dogs were capable.  Sweet-natured, indeed. Soft coat, hypoallergenic, easy to care for, healthy, free of breed faults (NGA, yes – AKC, not so much); all very true.  But these suckers are mind-bendingly FAST.   45 mph on a good day with an open field, their feet barely touching the turf, and then they sleep for 18-20 out of 24 hours.  They live up to their fame of being “45 mph couch potatoes.”

So I admit it.  My decision to settle on my flavor of Big Dog is directly rooted in my irrational love of speed, and the way speed brings a slow squeeze of adrenalin to my heart and brain.  Thanks to that, my dog and I connect on a level on which I do not connect with my cat, or my kids, or my brother.  My dog, even at 13 years old, will still spin on a dime so fast she bangs her snout on the wall.  Fast feels good to these dogs.

The reader is invited to reflect on the irrational motivations behind the choices people make to possess various breeds.  Do border collie lovers share a love of organization and paws-on  leadership with their breeds?  Do owners of Dalmatians harbor secret cravings of explosions of exuberance and strength?  Do owners of Irish setters prefer the comfort of a leather easy chair to chasing a stupid dalmatianstennis ball? The handler of a Search and Rescue German shepherd I know is a phenomenally intelligent and focused worker (especially during a search), but rumors have it that she has a hard time not spending too much money at the bar when the victim is found, the job is done, and it’s time to play.  Don’t you love this?

When my greyhound was young, we gathered with other owners and their greyhounds at a park in Citrus Heights, muzzles afixed, to run our dogs.  It was very important to us that the fully-fenced park was not accessible from other entrance points, as we knew that our dogs were trained to chase anything that moved, and that a quarter to a half ton of uncontrolled dog moving at 45 miles per hour in a direction determined by a single lead dog could be extraordinarily dangerous.  In fact, we experienced owners tended to stand quite close to the fence, as the dogs seemed to have the good sense to stop before colandering themselves through chain link.  We knew that no matter now much our dogs knew where their next meal came from, a voice command from Ra himself (greyhounds are the oldest breed, from the ancient Egyptians) was not going to stop racing greyhounds who were intent in winning (or at least not being last).

According to Roseville Dog Park Regulations, it would have been entirely legal for us to run our greyhounds in either of the Roseville greyhound_2Dog Parks.  According to the Animal Control Officer, as long as the dogs weren’t biting, they were free to “do what dogs do.”  “YO, ANIMAL CONTROL DUDE! My dog, and these other ten over here, do 45 freakin’ miles per hour, and we’re on our way over to Bear Dog Park!  How ’bout arranging for a nice cocker spaniel to be our rabbit today?”  This scenario seems ridiculous, right?  But it’s NOT ridiculous for a dog, originally bred to herd and guard sheep in Germany, the breed being “improved” for fighting in the trenches of WWI before entering the western hemisphere to be running uncontrolled in the same dog park greyhound owners wouldn’t dream of entering for fear of injury to bystanders as their own dogs do what is familiar and pleasurable to them.

Now, a casual reader would say, “But that’s ridiculous; of course no group of greyhound owners would do that!”  But why not?  Who’s to say they can’t?  Exactly where is the line, and just who is setting the placement of the line between prudence and stupidity?  Who is deciding whose dogs can hurt whom?  If a social norm is established that says “This group of dogs can play and cavort as long as they don’t bite anyone, but that group of dogs can’t (not really, you know) because we have decided that they run too fast and it’s too dangerous for other people to be near them,” then one is forced to ask, “Who is doing the talking for the government of Roseville, The City Attorney, and Captain David Allison who supervises Animal Control in Roseville?” Without much strain of imagination, one just might venture a guess that those humans who would keep a dog that thrives on being in charge, who is slow to bond to strangers, who demonstrates  fierce loyalty to their own families above all, and who can be a forceful guard and defender when their territory is threatened, might be very similarly inclined to demand that they alone set the agenda for the City of Roseville, common civility and equity be damned.

For the sake of the the power brokers in Roseville who are listening to just one particular voice (which is only being true-to-breed, after all),  it might be productive to pull their thinking out of the dog world for a moment to think about their dog park regulations with a mind to serving everyone who lives here, not just those with whom they personally agree.

Dialectics at the root…

Brace yourself, Lauren, because now I really am going to bore you, probably to tears.

The non-exchange of ideas on this blog, not to mention some other interesting interactions I’ve had with people of late have taken gotten me to think once again about dialectics.   In civil society there is a deep need for dialectic, as it’s really the only human inclination that keeps us from routinely killing each other when we disagree.  Professor Margaret Zulick of Wake Forest University writes,

“Dialectic begins with common opinion rather than known facts and “reasons to a contradiction”-that is, it sorts out common opinion to identify and discard contradictions and arrive at a narrower but more certain truth.”

plato_12Sounds like work, doesn’t it? It really is.  One must come to a discussion ready to hear what is being said by the party saying it, and to intellectually engage with an idea even if one finds it uncomfortable or considers it wrong.  Plato is the person who gave us this idea of dialectic, the need to engage in critical exchange in order to build knowledge and wisdom.  If you have any interest in exploring this more fully, check out this really well-developed paper written by a certain Ryan Canney at ISU on Plato’s take on the dialectic.

Captain Allison and I engaged in a dialectic. I approached our meeting with my opinion and understanding of events, as did he.  Through our conversation, we discovered the precise nature of our disagreement, and the issue as I have presented it in this blog crystallized into a focus on interpretation of fairly straightforward law and cultural norms as expressed in specfic behaviors.

Respondants to this blog, however, are clearly annoyed by the idea of doing that kind of work. Mr. Canney, above, notes that Plato’s Republic requires the following four elements for dialectic: Generally, the dialectical method requires the following: 1) Participation and the appearance of equal status among those involved, 2) Starting the dialogue with commonly held views and ideas, 3) Dialogue that leads to critical reflection amongst the participants, and 4) Connection of ideas brought up in discussion. Long before getting to the hard work of numbers 3 and 4, respondants reject #1 by their bully tactics, and demonstrate that #2 is not going to be in the cards by fundamentally rejecting the right of people to expect to be free of the threat of injury in a dog park.  However, discussion that leads to even that bit of realization and expression is much more productive than the lazy rant we saw, and which is the dominant mode of exchange that makes venues like MySpace so bloody tiresome.  Work can lead to good things, including solving problems and conflicts between people. It’s sad to see evidence that lazy intellect defines the other side (whatever that side really is, since we never got that far).

Thanks, Lauren!

To those who are following this blog, and particularly to those who will read it in the future, one of those folks who previously offered her rant has sent yet another, setting the stage for this post.  I’m not going to relegate it to the comment section, but am instead going to feature it here so that the nature of her comments can be seen by those who are serious about the issue.

Before you read Lauren’s “comment,” remember that the issue here is one of a conflict between what seems to be a local community norm that supports a certain kind of dog park culture, and the signage that communicates the regulations governing those parks.  Even Captain David Allison of the Roseville Police Department, the officer who oversees Animal Control, not to mention the City Attorney, sees no difference between Roseville’s signage and that of other communities who hold the owners of dogs responsible for any injury they inflict, yet he is quick to point out that Roseville regulations hold dog owners responsible for only those injuries inflicted by bite.  This is a very significant departure from communities who do hold owners responsible for all injuries, and it is also a greyhound stride away from AKC guidelines for the development of dog parks, yet the attorney adjudges the posted regs to be quite adequate.  They quite clearly are not.

So this has been a commentary about law and community norms.  It’s true, my wife’s injury and the response from Animal Control was the wellspring from which this blog flowed, but it is not what this blog was about, at all.  A semi-careful read would have revealed this.  It wasn’t even about dogs, or really about careless people (though this blog wouldn’t be here without them, bless their little hearts).

So as one who actually represents the only really printable comment to arrive at this blog, Lauren writes:


The only one’s who don’t seem to be enjoying the dog park seem to be you and your wife.  As for everyone BUT you and your wife being liars, perhaps you should admit that the only ones who really know the truth are those that were there that day of which you were not one.  By the way, it is completely obvious that you only intend to post comments that favor your own opinion so cut the crap about needing to approve people’s comments.  Who do you think you are?? Stalin??  Oh yea!  You’re the MASTER OF THIS RIDICULOUS BLOG.  You must bore the pants off of your friends.


I swear I did not enhance her grammar, spelling or punctuation.  It’s all her.

This bit of prose is posted prominently so that those who might check out “Roseville dog parks” as we did before going to one can see for themselves the quality of discourse we enjoy in this community when it comes to dog behavior, not to mention the quality of our neighbors who want the protection of the law as they send their dogs out to have their way with you and your dog.

And let’s talk about blogs, Lauren.  A blog isn’t a YouTube response rant, nor is it an IM flame session.  “Blog” originates from the words “Web Log,” and they were originally online diaries.  Blogs in their best form are full blown web sites, many of them quite artistic and highly literate.  Blogs are not places to dump the bile you feel rising behind your eyes.  It’s something to read and hopefully a source of inspiration for reflection.  They also tend to be heavily linked to other sources on the Internet to offer richness and depth.  Some blogs welcome a rant, but most are moderated by their owners, and they are managed so they accomplish their purpose.

Yes, Ms. Lauren, I AM the master of this blog, and you may not freely foul it.  But be of good cheer!  You’ll notice I have provided a link to WordPress in the left nav column, and you are free to start your own blog and rant to your heart’s content, and you can let all your friends visit it and post all the public profanity you like.  Isn’t life grand?

Thank you, Lauren, for providing the example I needed for this post, and now I can turn the comment function off so I no longer need to call in a priest to exorcise my blog’s inbox.  This blog can dwell here in peace.


“Swashy Dove” by George G., NYC

(another cool blog)

Cell phone silliness

Among the four people who have sent their nasty/illiterate/profane comments to this blog, was one who mentioned my wife as having been using a cell phone when she was hit by the shepherd.  This was an item alleged by one of the so-called “witnesses” to the event who spoke with Animal Control that day, and an allegation that gave the pro-shepherd (anti-people?) group reason to claim she was at fault for the incident.  That this was among the comments tells me the origin is from the same group of inattentive dog owners who were hanging out across the park from where the incident occurred who were observed by other witnesses to the event to have been far more interested in socializing with each other than attending to their dogs.

As modern people may know, cell phones have something called a “call log.”  For those of you who do not understand high tech terminology, this is the place in the cell phone that records the time and sender/recipient of every call made from that phone.  As my wife observed to Captain Allison of Roseville PD, her call log shows that the only call made at the time she was at the dog park with our dog was when she called me to come get her when she was unable to walk on her broken foot.  So the fact that some “observer” who “saw” the incident is claiming that she was hit while she was on the phone proves two things, based on the call log: (1) that “observer” did not witness the collision at all, and (2) the first thing that “observer” witnessed in the event was my wife on the phone, which means that this person saw nothing until several minutes after she was hit.  This is not a witness; this is a person with an agenda based on personal interest.

Perhaps this personal interest is grounded in a need to defend the harmlessness of German shepherds, or perhaps they want to preserve their right to socialize with their friends while their dogs run wild in the dog park.  Either case makes them no less a liar.

We can argue the facts forever, but this exchange illustrates an important point: People who visit the dog parks of Roseville need to understand there is a group of people who are hell-bent on preserving the kind of dog park they now enjoy, a dog park that puts people at risk by allowing uncontrolled dogs to run loose there.  The only reason this blog exists is to let people know the reality of Bear and Marco Dog Parks.  Roseville has the right, I suppose, to establish and maintain a dangerous venue.  I would like to see them post it as such so that those who expect responsibility from their neighbors will know they won’t be seeing it at the dog park.

And the beat goes on…

I had every intention of letting this blog sit and steep for a while and let the Google web spiders get the tags crawling on the web, but I find this issue has some serious local legs, despite my wife having only one functioning at 100% at this time.

An injury to someone who is as much in the public eye as my wife does not go unnoticed or unremarked upon.  Her injury has drawn a lot of curiosity, and the source of her injury has generated quite a bit of personal commentary on the state of Roseville dog parks.  Of particular interest to those of you on RSS feeds of this blog may be the very positive things said about Roseville law enforcement in general, and the overall disconnect in most people’s minds between the police department and animal control it oversees.

Here’s a sampler of the reactions we’ve experienced from our neighbors and local friends:

  • “We went to Bear Dog Park once, and we had a very uneasy feeling there.  It was like dog owners were pretty unaware of what their dogs were doing. We’d thought about going back, but hearing this [story of how her injury happened] tells me we were right to stay away.”
  • “It’s amazing Roseville isn’t more careful about letting people know about this.”
  • “For real? Aren’t there signs that let people know it’s dangerous?”
  • “How can Roseville be so different than other towns?  You’d think they’d have put more thought into their dog parks than Sac City.”
  • “You mean someone could be killed by an out-of-control charging dog and its owner isn’t responsible?!”
  • “Yeah, we stay out of the dog park.  It seems like nobody cares there.”
  • “People bring their pit bulls and turn them loose – it’s very scary.
  • “Are you kiddin’ me?  They [Animal Control] didn’t do anything about the dog?!”

And from Bay Area friends:

  • “I thought owners had to control their dogs so they wouldn’t jump on people in the dog parks.”
  • “Isn’t this governed by state law?  How strange.”

So we are anything but alone in our dismay and amazement that Roseville thinks the current state of  regulation of its dog parks is A-OK.

One last thought about my conversation with Capt. Allison.  One of his contentions was that Roseville dog park regulations rosevl_dogpark_regs_600px2were completely consistent with the other community regs I cited holding dog owners responsible for all injuries produced by their dogs’ behavior, whether vicious bite or inadvertent.  While a reasonable stretch of imagination might allow one to view the Roseville regulations in that way, in our conversation it became abundantly apparent that the community norms of Roseville are not at all consistent with those communities who expect dog owners to control their dogs to keep people safe from injury.  The Roseville signage indeed states that dog owners are responsible for their dogs.  The signage does NOT state that the community norms expect you to accept their personal level of comfort with significant potential for personal injury from uncontrolled dog behavior.  Therein lies the danger of the Roseville approach: their community norms are not reflected in the signage to any degree whatsoever.  What would be the problem with clearly stating the following?:

“This dog park is a no-fault dog park. Non-vicious dogs of every size and temperament are allowed every freedom to play, run, chase, and collide with objects, including you, in their path.  Be advised you may be injured or killed in this dog park, and in this community, dog owners shall not be held liable for such outcomes of said non-vicious big-dog behavior.”

You must think I’m being cynical here.  I am not.  To post this would simply be truth-telling about this particular city’s culture and code, based on our experience and following the advice of Roseville Animal Control.  To be told this after the fact by law enforcement, when one has already been injured by an uncontrolled dog, is too late.

I indicated to Capt. Allison that my interest in illuminating this issue was not to produce the groundwork for a lawsuit. This has to be a surprise after all his conversations with the Roseville City Attorney and Risk Management, not to mention the universal unwillingness of the rest of the Roseville dog establishment to speak about this.  No, I truly am interested in the safety issue here. However, this has to give someone pause, because eventually, or at least possibly, some Walnut Creek lawyer’s granny is going to move to one of the many retirement communities in Roseville and take her standard poodle to a dog park, thinking that people will be truly and fully responsible for their dogs like they were at home. Nothing on the signage will indicate she should expect nothing less, because as Capt. Allison pointed out, to the casual reader the signage is not unlike the one at home in Walnut Creek, except that it lacks an important header as she would find at home:

Owners are legally responsible for their dog(s)and any damage and/or injury caused by their dogs.  Persons violating these rules are subject to citation.

Granny, consequently, receives an unwelcome visit from a friendly, out-of-control German shepherd, winds up with a fractured pelvis, contracts pneumonia, and dies.  Granddaughter, Esq., now has a legal project, and Roseville will be in her cross hairs along with everyone else involved.  Regardless of how justifiable Capt. Allison and the Town Attorney feel the canine actions were when the Fido flattened granny, Granddaughter, Esq. will have her day in court, and she won’t make it either fun or cheap for any of them.

My taxes are high enough, thank you very much. Perhaps the City would care to reconsider how it is they describe the real conditions in their dog parks if they are unwilling to encourage responsible dog ownership.  In my mind, dog park signage needs to include one or the other bold-faced passages as stated above.  I am not opposed to the community having its traditions and norms, like any American small town as in the play, The Lottery.  Contrary to the experience of watching that play, however, it’s only fair to let the people of Roseville know where they really live.  Let’s get the signage consistent with what we have here, a willfully designed and officially sustained public nuisance.

And for the record, yesterday’s post produced no comment from either Captain Allison or the City Attorney, despite my invitation to dispute my version of our conversation.  Considering the hit rate on this blog, it is quite unlikely it has not been read by all interested parties.  And yes, this blog will live here in perpetuity.

A dog’s life in Roseville after all…

My meeting with Captain David Allison of the Roseville PD was fruitful and quite enjoyable.  Despite my enduring poor opinion of the Animal Control officers he supervises, an opinion reinforced by his account of their report on the incident in which my wife was injured, I found him to be decent, careful, and professional.  Consequently, he is invited, as is the Roseville town attorney whom I suspect may give this blog a read or two, to respond to this post if he finds my account of our meeting lacking in accuracy.  [I promise to post your response.  Please include your professional email address and phone so I can verify your comment.]

As I expected, there were few points of agreement on the incident itself, thanks to the failure of the animal control officers to interview anyone at the scene except for supporters of the German shepherd that ran down my wife.  Captain Allison characterized the dog’s impact as a “bump,” based on the comments of witnesses with whom he spoke by telephone, contacts all provided by the A.C. officer on the scene.  chasing_1 The witnesses were comprised of the dog’s owner, the head of a German shepherd rescue organization, and an attorney who works for the state, some of whom (by the Animal Control officers’ account) were heckling me while I tried to wrap my shell-shocked mind around the laissez-faire dog park regulations in Roseville as explained by the officer.  The captain even quoted them as having been yelling, “Hey! It’s a dog park!”  Chalk it up to having spent too many years as a parent and teacher of teenagers, but I just didn’t hear the dog park mob.  Somehow, I am not surprised that the interviewed witnesses were careful to describe the impact as an inconsequential bump, a “bump” that wound up with my wife on top of the dog, probably with her badly broken foot beneath it.  How interesting that the people actually close to the incident didn’t wind up in the report, the ones who told me they were scared to death and that my wife was rammed by the shepherd.  The witnesses clearly have an agenda to preserve, and the interviews ended when the A.C. officer heard what he wanted to hear from those near the dog, friends of the shepherd owner, at the opposite end of the park.

One point on which there was easy agreement was that the shepherd was not being vicious.  I observed to the captain that the small dog being chased by the shepherd might have a somewhat different take on the event, but at least we agree there was no one bitten and bystanders didn’t hear growls.

My goal for the visit, however, was not to establish any kind of official veracity – I knew I wasn’t going to get that.  My two brothers-in-law are cops, I’ve worked in education for twenty-three years and EMS before that.   I know how institutions work, and they work first to take care of themselves.  Clients are second (if they’re lucky).  No, I was there to ferret out the social underpinnings and community norms for dog park regulations that apparently are quite tolerant of dog behaviors that result in human beings being injured or killed for the sake of dog and dog-owner pleasure.

Captain Allison believes that the regulations in Roseville mirror those of other the other communities I cite.  When I pointed out that the Roseville regulations fail to make dogs responsible for all injuries to people, he said they did, but then he qualified his statement to include only vicious injury.  Our conversation revealed that the community norm, and the intent of the regulation, is to protect the right of dog owners to let their “dogs be dogs,” free to not control dog behavior within boundaries that would prevent injury to people; for example, calling a pursuing German shepherd away from a group of bystanders, not to mention away from its prey item.  As I said, we had a great conversation.  It was a classic exchange in which we both tried to find the bright line that separated us, and our conversation succeeded.

That bright line became most apparent when he provided an example, and here I will attempt a quote.  We were trying to pin down what I meant by the idea that dog owners should control their dogs’ behavior.  He said, “OK, so if I was from me to you [about 8 feet] with my dog, and he ran and jumped on you and knocked you down, would you say I wasn’t controlling my dog appropriately?”  I said, “Yes.”  He disagreed, and characterized that particular dog-act as being acceptable in a dog park, and something dog park users should come prepared to deal with.  Bingo – flashing bright line.

I think there’s another point to be made here.  One of my closest friends owns a chihuahua, has owned them all his life.  Every single one of them has jumped on me, for about 20 years, with all its might when I visit him.  “Hi, Ohura!” I say as she flings away off my leg.  Ohura weighs about 3 1/2 pounds.  Ohura doesn’t need to be trained, except to not bite or pee on my friend’s carpet.  Such enthusiastic behavior is acceptable, in the house, or in the dog park.  The dividing line exists among those who agree that dogs living amongst people need to not injure them.  Dogs weighing such that their behavior in a public place would injure the people who pay to support those places need to be controlled, in the dog park or otherwise.  Most people with such dogs, who are unwilling to provide training to control those dogs and then use that training to keep people and other living things safe need to keep them out of public contact.  Period.

So, the bottom line is that in Roseville, CA, there is an acceptable risk of injury or death by letting “dogs be dogs” as long as that “being-ness” is not observable as clearly “vicious.”  So your dog is aggressive and violent?  No problem.  Just don’t let it growl at me while you’re in the process of mowing me down and crippling me, and you’re in the clear.  Visitors to Roseville dog parks beware: you are stepping into a dog-first culture here, and unlike many communities in our region and across the nation who expect dog owners to control dog behavior to maintain a safe environment, even in the dog park, all bets are off in Roseville.  Listen to the Animal Control officer carefully when he tells an injured woman on the way to the hospital, “You know, unfortunately, if the dog wasn’t being vicious, then there’s nothing that can be done.”

With a bit more honesty or experience, he might have said, “Nothing will be done for you in Roseville.”

Now, take a look at the comments on this rating of Marco dog park, also in Roseville, CA.  Along with Bear Dog Park where my wife was injured.  Better rating there, but note the comments on “rambunctious dogs” and “grumpy seniors.”

Then have a gander at the rating of this dog park in Davis, CA, 35 miles west on I-80.

Anyone care to comment on why these come out this way?  Might we suppose it’s a factor of dog owners taking responsibility for their dogs in one place and not another?  Is Roseville asking for the logical consequences of establishing a public nuisance?

Responsible Roseville dog owners

I paid a visit to our local dog park today to snap a picture of the regulations & sign at Bear Dog Park in Roseville, CA,

rosevl_dogpark_sign_300and sat for a while to watch the dogs there and their owners.  The dogs were a wide range of sizes, but all the owners had something in common:  they all maintained a connection to their dogs, including the owner of a rambunctious lab who either followed his dog or required the dog follow him and stay within about fifteen feet.  I was particularly interested in the owner of a largish male pit bull.  Now, a lot of “experts” tell dog owners to take their dogs off-leash immediately upon entering a no-leash dog park, and some dog park rules even require it, saying it is to keep the leashed dog from being attacked.  Trust me when I say, no dog was going to attack this pit.  The owner allowed unleashed dogs to come near and engage in “nose play” while maintaining full control of his potentially explosive dog. rosevl_dogpark_pitowner1 He talked to his dog and he monitored every muscle twitch and foot stamp from the pit.  It was very nicely done, and the pit got good socialization training while everyone stayed safe.  This is the dog park I thought I was using, not the one described by the officer from Roseville Animal Control.  I truly wished I’d had my video camera today, because those owners would have been AKC poster-people for responsible dog ownership.

Today was the first time I had the opportunity to personally view the Roseville Dog Park Regulations since my wife’s violent encounter with the out-of-control German shepherd on 2/21/09. and I was surprised that in addition to the “Use at your own risk” line twice quoted by the Roseville Animal Control officer, it also reads “YOU are responsible for your actions and those of your dog.”

rosevl_dogpark_regs_600pxThis would appear to contradict the good officer,  wouldn’t it?  However, if the “action” of the dog is a protected action in the mind of the officer who is there to enforce the law, then there is a de facto outcome of no fault.  This is particularly the case since the officer failed to interview anyone who was not a supporter of the German shepherd’s right to injury my wife, so those who were quick to say the dog “didn’t really hit her that hard” or “he was never over there!” gave the only story that made it into the official record of that event.  Angry bystanders who were near my wife when she was hit and who helped us to our car, who were equally incredulous that Animal Control did nothing but defend the offending dog and owners, were never interviewed by the officers, apparently shared whiner status with my wife in the officer’s mind.  Their opinion or observations clearly did not count.

One line is missing from these rules, and it is the FIRST rule in the AKC guidelines:

  • Owners are legally responsible for their dogs and any injuries caused by them.

Had that line been on this sign, I would only hope the Roseville Animal Control officer would have felt duty-bound (even while still privately siding with that gorgeous dog) to collect information from all witnessing parties, including the victim.

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