Officials need to do a better job of enforcing the law at Pasadena’s dog park
By Jana J. Monji 02/17/2011
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.