Over 500 Piles Flagged
Austin, TX - Irresponsible dog owners are not limited to pit bull owners. Each of us likely has a dog owner in the neighborhood that lets his dog run loose from time-to-time. The difference between a loose chihuaha and a pit bull, however, is like the difference between a firecracker and a bomb exploding. Many dog owners also refuse to clean up after their pets. Dog mess in parks ruins the joy of visiting a park for the rest of us, not to mention the health risk it poses.
"Austin residents love their dogs, but not all of them love picking up after their pooch. The fight is on to get dog owners to own up to the responsibility of cleaning up after their pets. On Monday, middle and high school students fanned out in a downtown park. Their mission was to put an orange flag on all the dog messes that they found. By the end of the morning, they had put out 500 flags and had to buy more. The flagged piles were eventually cleaned up. Organizers are calling on the city to enforce an ordinance that fines violators $85."
Counties, cities and neighborhoods are cracking down. Austin may soon follow suit. A quick Google search brings up Taylor County, Florida that recently prohibited dogs from all county-maintained recreation parks. Officials cited that dogs and cats presented a "potentially dangerous" threat, particularly to children. It appears the whole Metro Park System in Oregon disallows dogs. The language on their website is eye-opening and painfully accurate:
"Visitors to these places have a unique opportunity to experience native plants and animals in a natural environment. Dogs, by nature, can significantly alter a visitor’s experience and can damage sensitive habitats or restored habitat sites as well as harass or kill vulnerable wildlife.
The no-dogs policy also applies to heavily-used parks such as Blue Lake Regional Park. On a busy summer day at Blue Lake, there are often as many as 8,000 people picnicking, walking, biking, swimming and playing various field games in the park. A crowded environment such as this can prove to be unsafe for people as well as for pets.
A dogs-on-leash rule has proved ineffective in the past, because many people disregard the policy. We also have experienced that a number of pet owners do not take the responsibility to pick up pet waste. Patrolling park grounds to assure that dogs are under control, contacting those who are not being responsible with their pet and cleaning up after pets to assure a safe visitor environment has proved to be an inefficient use of very limited staff time."
Pit Bulls Destroy Trees
In addition to issues listed by Metro Park officials, and a problem specific to pit bull type dogs, is the tree damage being done by the animals. Pit bulls are taught to hang from tree branches, often located in parks, to increase their jaw strength. This practice greatly damages the tree and often times kills it. Reports in the UK about this activity are on the rise. It's undoubtedly occurring across the U.S. as well, but lives beneath the mainstream media "radar."
Calls for Action on Dangerous Dogs
10/30/08 | UK, North Kensington - "The council is very aware of the concerns that residents have about dogs. This year we had 240 trees damaged in our parks and gardens as a result of being ripped apart by these powerful and often intimidating dogs egged on by their owners."
Dogs Being Trained to Fight in Birmingham Parks
09/25/08 | UK, Birmingham - "This is a top priority for the council because what is happening is disgusting and we are trying to stop it. These owners strengthen these fighting dogs’ jaws by making the poor dog clamp its mouth on to the swings then pushing them back and forth...."
Irresponsible Dog Owners Bring Death to Trees
07/01/08 | UK, Haringey - Dozens of trees have been damaged and some killed is public parks by dogs being encouraged to chew and scratch on bark to strengthen their jaws and claws ... Approximately 100 trees in total have been damaged and are now at risk.
Is Tree Damage Paws for Alarm?
03/06/08 | UK, Camden - Animal expert John Bryant said the damage could only have been caused by "fighter" dogs such as pit bulls and terriers. He said: "It’s macho nonsense. If the bark is badly damaged it opens the tree up to infection and they could die."
Dogs Destroying Trees in Parks
10/27/07 | UK, Hackney - "Over the past couple of years in Hackney has seen an increase in the numbers of trees stripped off their bark by dogs such as Staffordshire and Pit Bull Terriers," she said. "Once this happens the tree is at risk of dying because the sap cannot flow..."
08/28/08: Video: Pit Bulls Destroying Trees in Parks
10/27/08: Pit Bull Attacks Horse on Burnaby Trail in North Vancouver
11/26/07: Pit Bull's Destruction of Trees Could Cost Owner $3,100