Dog Park Concerns
To the Editor:
I don't live in Bethel, but I used to, and have been watching the dog park controversy with interest. I now live in Portland, and am aware of at least five dog parks in the area. I would not take my dog to a dog park anywhere because after something happens, such as a fight, contracting a disease from another dog or one or more of the dogs getting loose, it's too late to wish you hadn't been there.
You probably won't know if all of the other dogs that utilize the park are up to date on their vaccinations, have some type of an airborne illness that hasn't been attended to, or if they have worms that can be transmitted between dogs.
Even the friendliest dog that you have ever met can have a total personality change in a pen with other dogs. If one or more dogs are aggressive and a fight starts, it's not a good idea to get between them, so there need to be plans for these issues. Dogs have pretty much lost the pack mentality through the years because their people have become their pack, so don't expect "Can't we all just get along?"
Sometimes a dog can escape depending on how long the doors are open for a very short time. At one of the parks in this area, a dog came out with no leash on and ran off. He attacked a young girl who was already afraid of dogs and he bit her. He went back to his owner and she drove off. The girl was with adults on a walking trail. At that time, nobody knew if the dog had been vaccinated for rabies, and if the owner hadn't finally come forward, the child would have had to go through the process of shots to protect her from rabies.
There are always going to be issues about the owners who "forget" to clean up after their dogs, people who want to drop their dogs off while they do errands so everyone else can watch them, and other issues that come up eventually, for sure.
It's important to take the tick population into consideration. Do the dogs that frequent the park have fleas and/or ticks? Is the physical area infested with ticks? Has anyone sprayed the area with something that could make the dogs sick?
There are a lot of questions and it is important to look at the positives and the negatives since your beloved family pet could be in jeopardy. All it takes is one situation and it becomes everyone’s problem.
For what it's worth, in my opinion, the location is not the best one, and the standards don't seem to have been considered. If I wanted an enclosed area for my dog to run in, I would put up a fence and would not invite the neighborhood dogs for a play date. I would only have my dog to be responsible for. Dogs have become less pack animals through the years because they don't have to look for food, but their families and people they see frequently have become their packs.
I am just suggesting that there be more consideration concerning location, rules, who polices the area, cleans the area and makes sure that the fences and doors are secure. It may take dedicated volunteers or a paid employee.