Trouble unleashed

Trouble unleashed

Officials need to do a better job of enforcing the law at Pasadena’s dog park

By Jana J. Monji 02/17/2011

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Pasadena has laws governing dogs and people, but why are police so hesitant to enforce them at the Pasadena Off-Leash Dog Park on East Orange Grove Boulevard? There’s a prominent sign posted detailing these laws, but no one — including local law enforcement officials — seems to care very much.
If you knew people were being attacked by other people in a public park, wouldn’t you want something done about it? Wouldn’t you expect the police to get out there and take names and investigate allegations? 
If you click onto Yelp and read some of the nearly 100 entries about unruly dogs and absentee owners at the Pasadena dog park, you’ll begin to wonder why such dangerous disorder is allowed. People being bitten and dogs attacking other dogs are just some of the tales of some neighborhood people who no longer take their pets there.
I was knocked down twice and almost a third time by a Doberman pinscher that was hunting me like I was a large rabbit. The second time, I briefly lost consciousness. Why doesn’t this worry animal control officials enough to investigate? What if I had broken my neck? What if I had, like my dog, Kumori, which was also struck, developed neurological problems. For my pet, those injuries resulted in paralysis, then death.
If a person had done this to me, and not a dog, I could call the police. And I called them this time. But I was told to call animal control. I did that, but animal control told me to try taking the owners of the dog to civil court. Does the fact that this incident occurred in the dog park make it any less serious, painful and wrong? Apparently, in the eyes of local law enforcement, the answer is yes. 
I eventually took the owners to court, but your average citizen isn’t equipped to do a proper investigation into the habits of a dangerous dog, and the judge was more interested in passing the time than investigating cases. 
It was clear one of the defendants was being untruthful when she told the judge she was at work at the time of incident. A simple phone call by the judge to her employer would have cleared that up. The second piece of tainted evidence was a piece of paper that had the wrong birth date for the dog in question — and one of the defendants actually admitted it was the wrong date. 
The next day, I called the clinic the couple said they took their dog to for treatment, but the veterinary clinic had no record of such a dog. When I lost the case, I knew the judge pro tem hadn’t made a real effort to make sense of the conflicting information.
Proving perjury can be easy. Getting the courts to consider it criminal is not. I filed a request to vacate the judgment based on perjury, but the judge didn’t give me an opportunity to show my evidence. Perjury is a felony, but you won’t see many prosecutors pursuing these cases, particularly ones from small claims court.  
When I complained to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, they told me to file a report with Pasadena police. But when I tried to do that, the police then sent me back to the district attorney’s staff.
I know for a fact that the people who own this offending dog still use the park. I recently heard of another attack involving a dog of the same breed. Same dog? It’s possible, but since the police and animal control do not take reports, how would anyone really know?
The person I spoke with at the Pasadena Humane Society told me that he wouldn’t take his animal to a dog park. A witness in my case no longer uses the park.
Not all dog parks are so casually maintained. In Santa Monica, for instance, people are required to buy an annual pass and have a valid Santa Monica dog license. 
At Standing Rocks Dog Park in Wisconsin, an annual fee is required. Recently, when a dog killed another dog, the owner and the aggressive dog were banned from the park and the owner was fined $162 for failing to control the animal.
In 2008, police investigated the death of a dog at a dog park in Hillsboro, Ore. In 2009, at a dog park in Nebraska, another dog’s death was investigated by that city’s police department. In a 2008 case in Middleton, Wis., police investigated the killing of a small dog and found the attacking dog had a record of going after other dogs. In April, a woman whose dog was killed in North Carolina passed on information to animal control for them to investigate, and they later sought out witnesses to what they considered to be a crime.
Some legal organization — police or animal control — needs to take legal responsibility for assaults and batteries that occur at the Pasadena dog park. Otherwise, the innocent will suffer and the bullies — both of the four- and two-legged variety — will reign.


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My partner and our two dogs have stopped going to the dog park. As much as we used to love it, there have been just too many "close calls" with animals that are unsupervised and aggressive.

In all but one incident, the owners were present in the park, but either too busy talking on their phones or sipping their Starbucks to care what their dogs were doing. Inevitably, when we intervened to separate their animals from our small dogs, they would finally take notice...and harass US for daring to disturb their precious snowflake.

Enough. As much as we'd love to return to the park, we'll be sticking to walks around our own neighborhood. It's too bad that, yet again, the jerks of the world have ruined what had been a great place.

posted by grecodan on 2/17/11 @ 08:19 a.m.

I live in the neighborhood and refuse to go to this dog park any longer.

"Absentee/careless owners are to blame, period. Aggressive dogs (Huskies, Pitbulls, Dobermans, etc.) are not bad dogs when under the control of a responsible and observant/present owner. If their dogs are aggressive, then the owners should know this and not take their dogs to this park...sorry, but you put the majority of dogs and their owners in peril.

I agree 100% with grecodan that "the jerks of the world have ruined what had been a great place."

John G.

posted by gutz19 on 2/17/11 @ 10:05 a.m.

It seems that the problem here is not just the local government's badge-shielded gangbangers or animal control, but are the judges themselves. the judges are lazy! After all, why should they work hard when they don't have to?

Anyway, unless you know the process and particular coin of paying out bribes, the only just-us that the "adjudicator-class" provides is just for themselves.

Just another circumstance of judicial barrister-trash suckin' their livilihood off the public teat. They have become just a bunch of indolent M-Fers.


posted by DanD on 2/18/11 @ 10:18 a.m.

I am saddened to hear of your negative experiences at the Pasadena Off-Leash Dog Park. There are no excuses for dog owners that do not responsibly mind their pets and it is nerve-racking, and frankly unfair, when non-socialized and aggressive dogs are brought into the park. I am also truly sorry that you and your dog suffered debilitating injuries from the actions of others.

However, I disagree with your attack on Pasadena’s dog park. Since rescuing my dog from a shelter last summer, we visit the dog park nearly every day. While we’ve had our share of humping dogs, eye infections, bullies, and TKOs, we both have a blast. Since I don’t have a yard, Pasadena’s dog park provides an overwhelming amount of grassy open space. We have visited the park during many different time slots, and have found an active, supportive and responsible group of dogs and owners who visit the park during the same time each day. I cannot thank the park and its patrons enough for the mental and physical stimulation my dog receives from this fantastic facility.

Your mention of other parks and statistics are misleading and somewhat irrelevant. Attacks at the dog park will occur, and I’m sure they occur regularly in Santa Monica, Wisconsin, and across the country. These attacks will continue regardless of posted rules, entrance fees, police intervention, or bans on specific breeds. Dogs will be dogs. Ultimately, it is us – the dog owners – who are responsible for the well being of ourselves and our pets. If you do not feel safe or feel threatened by a dog in the park then it is okay to leave.

Pedestrians are killed by public transportation, and the lives of children are threatened when guns are brought onto campuses. The world is far from perfect. But we do not lose faith in our city’s transportation plan, or the public school system. We attend meetings. We adopt new policy. We rally together. We make change because blame doesn’t result in any positive affects.

Clearly, the Pasadena Dog Park is not for everyone. But I love it, and I wouldn’t want to discourage new dog owners or residents from enjoying the park. The City of Pasadena puts forth great effort to keep the facility clean and well maintained, and Pasadenians Organizing Off-Leash Canine Habitats (POOCH) does a spectacular job providing park amenities. You have every right to not frequent the Pasadena Off-Leash Dog Park. But I hope others will give the park a chance, as I find it to be full of positive experiences and fun.

posted by ericisadj on 2/23/11 @ 03:40 p.m.

I can only assume the author and some respondents are unfamiliar with the legal concept of "assumption of risk".

As unfortunate as the author's experience as accounted seems to be, you assumed all risk associated with an off-leash dog park as soon as you entered the gate.

Since I started to frequent dog parks 2 years ago with my Italian Greyhound I have visited parks in Long Beach, various Los Angeles city facilities, Orange County, Las Vegas NV and Roseville CA. All these dog parks are basically unsupervised. Pasadena does send out patrol cars and the Humane Society truck swings by from time to time. The others may also, I don't know I wasn't there long enough to find out.

I soon learned that my idea of taking my 11 lb Italian Greyhound into the Large Dog area was a bad idea. My dog new it from day one. I had to learn. Now we stay in the small dog area.

Are all owners responsible? No. Is it exclusive to a Socio-economic class? No. I have encountered stone cold Cholos in E. LA that are responsible dog owners and Yuppy dog owners who ignore their dogs aggressive behaviors and fail to clean up their mess.

In the end it is a community park open to the good and the bad. And I'm speaking of the dog owners. In my book there are no "Bad" dogs. There are posted rules. It is up to all of us in the community to enforce them.

That we don't reflects poorly on all of us, but going back to the idea of assumption of risk, I avoid the dog park on weekends and holidays. Why? Because the number of ignorant dog owners seems to rise.

In closing if one person acts like a child we invite the Nanny State and as much as I'd like to turn off my brain and ramble through life in a bubble of State Enforced Absence of Personal Responsibility, I know that it is a fools paradise. Better to use the wits God gave you.

posted by Bina's Dad on 2/24/11 @ 09:24 a.m.

Actually, I do understand the concept of assumed risk. If you read the park rules that are prominently posted, you'll see that number 11 states: "You are responsible for your dog’s actions and could be personally liable for any injuries resulting from your dog’s aggression – even if it was provoked by others."

When I go to a park (which I do almost every day), if a stranger decided to start tackling me and did it twice, the second time knocking me unconscious, and tried a third time, that would NOT be considered an assumed risk of being in a park. It would be an assumed risk of playing football/soccer. However, a stranger attacking a stranger out of the blue would be considered battery. I was assaulted and battered by another person's dog. The second time it was avoidable. He was busy on his phone. She was busy minding her small white dog. I was not playing with the dog. My dog wasn't playing with the dog. The dog launched itself at full speed according to witnesses and ran across a field specifically targeting me. Becoming the prey to a predator is not assumed risk in a park or a dog park.

Asking for protection against assault and battery by a dog (which can in this very state be considered a dangerous weapon) or another person isn't asking to have a nanny state no less than asking to be protected from stalkers or a person who threatens to harm you. It is asking that the law be enforced. We have a dangerous dog law. Why isn't it more actively enforced?

It is not irrelevant to indicate that other communities are more proactive in the investigation and prosecution of laws meant to safeguard its citizens and their property. If other communities see fit to do it, why not Pasadena? I do not want to believe that any civilized community considers battery in the park an assumed risk. Obviously other communities have different ideas about assumed risk and how to handle dog parks. Aren't these things that Pasadena might consider?

If you read Yelp, you'll also notice that someone was bitten by a dog and required stitches. You'll also see comments that there are certain dogs that are considered problem dogs whose owners return again and again.

The attack didn't occur on a weekend or a holiday and that in itself is not relevant to the problem. You're actually indicating that monitoring needs to be greater during those times periods if there was any monitoring.

Bina's Dad, there are rules and it is up to us in the community to enforce them, but exactly who is enforcing them? Why can't that enforcement be more proactive as it is in other communities?

posted by JanaMonji on 2/24/11 @ 05:14 p.m.

I agree Jana people are responsible for their dogs. The state of California legal system agrees. The problem is no one regulates the people or dogs in the park. My little australian shep. mix was the latest victum. A woman brought 5 large huskies to the park (apparently she does this daily), when my very submissive pup came into "their territory" one immediatly attacked. When my dog layed down to show submission it only fueled the fire and the rest of her pack joined in the assualt. After I broke it up the woman said that her dog was "dominate" and the pack often follows his lead. Therefore she knew what her dogs were capabe of and still brought them to the park. First no one should bring a known aggressive dog to the park. Secondly, 5 dogs is far too many for one woman to conrol... obviously. Unfortunatly I did not realize how bad the damage was until I took her to the vet the next morning and they shaved her coat. She has a deep laceration/ puncture wound on the side of her face. The vet did not want to stitch b/c it was so close to her eye, but now she needs 10 days worth of antibiotics. I dogs that have already attacked once should be banned from the park and there should be a limit of 1-2 dogs per person. And someone needs to regulate them.

posted by LoLoD on 3/12/11 @ 09:09 a.m.

There was another incident listed on Yelp last week about the five huskies. Why have this owner and her pack of dogs been allowed to take over the dog park for so long?

posted by JanaMonji on 3/24/11 @ 07:33 a.m.

What exactly do they mean by "off-leash"? Does that mean the dogs are allowed to be off their leashes, or is there an anti off-leash law that needs to be enforced there?

posted by Nozomi311 on 2/15/13 @ 07:08 p.m.
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