City of Mission Viejo may spend $293,420 to landscape their (tentative) million dollar dog park

As the city of Mission Viejo researches the creation of a “dog park” on city owned land I feel it is important to know the downside of this potential $one million dollar project. Although the following comments regarding dog parks were published five years ago they are still applicable today.


By Kathy Diamond Davis
Author and Trainer

Dog Parks

Q: I hear a lot of good things and bad things about dog parks. I very much enjoy taking my dogs to an off leash park because they get far more exercise than they would on a leash, and it’s very social for me and for them. My two dogs like people and other dogs. But I’ve seen some fights, some injuries, and lots of people yelling at each other over the behavior of their respective dogs. I was bit once breaking up a bad fight the wrong way. What do you think about off-leash dog parks?

A: Dog parks need to be a personal choice for each person with a dog. It’s a choice that needs to be made for each of their individual dogs, because some will function well in dog parks and some will not. Here are some points to consider in making your decisions:

1) Dogs can become ill from the contaminated soil of dog parks, and dogs without strong immunity should be protected from this exposure.

2) Dogs can become injured or even killed in dog parks, and this is a risk each person must seriously consider. If you know your dog is likely to injure or terrorize other dogs, that is a dog who doesn’t belong in an off-leash dog park.

3) Dogs have had their temperaments ruined through dog park experiences. If your dog’s working ability is important to you, there’s a good chance that after a few dog-park experiences, you’ll decide to keep your dog out of such places. Sadly, some dogs’ temperaments are too far gone to rehabilitate, by the time their people understand what is happening.

4) Dog parks need to be responsibly run. People should be able to walk by the dog park with their dogs on leash or their young children without being accosted by loose dogs. Dog parks should be fenced, and the off-leash activity kept inside the fence. Dog parks need to be cleaned frequently. There need to be rules that are enforced, to prevent malicious people from bringing fighting dogs to the park just to watch them maim and kill other people’s dogs.

5) After a perfect day at the dog park, realize your dog is probably going to need a bath! Churning dog feet and dog waste that isn’t promptly cleaned will leave the ground both dirty and contaminated. Be prepared, too, for injuries even when dogs have not been engaged in fighting. Hard running with dogs of widely differing weights can cause orthopedic injuries–especially in the lighter dogs, but also in any dog with an orthopedic weakness you might not have known was there.

6) Keeping your dog out of off-leash dog parks doesn’t mean the dog can’t enjoy exercise and dog-to-dog social time. A play date with a compatible canine pal in a clean fenced area, such as someones well-kept lawn, is a safe alternative to the dog park.

7) Dog parks should be a choice. I’m not in favor of taking this option away from people, but it needs to be an option that isn’t forced on anyone or any dog. A great many mature dogs with temperaments perfectly normal for their breeds can either be dangerous to other dogs in dog parks, or can be irreparably mentally damaged by these experiences. Dog parks are not for everyone.

Note: We own two King Charles Spaniels that we walk twice daily. Although we love them we also recognize the possible health and safety risks associated with bringing them to dog parks. It’s also worth noting that we have a joint venture with the City of Laguna Niguel who uses our animal shelter. Therefore, why not have a reciprocal agreement with them for our use of their dog park for all those who have this pent up need. It’s really a no brainer. Just pack your pet in the car and drive across the freeway. Their free access dog park is not much further away than either of the proposed Mission Viejo sites. This will save Mission Viejo taxpayers well over one million dollars on this “vital” Capital Improvement project.

The June 4, 2007 City Agenda Report Executive Summary of one potential site reads in part: “In summary, the preliminary estimate of probable construction cost for the Alicia Park site is approximately $1,000,000 for construction and $150,000 for design.”

Juice readers, city council and city manager. Did you see part two? $150,000 to design a dog park?Let me not overlook $293,420 for landscaping. I know the male dogs expect to find costly trees and shrubs to lift their legs on. What about the girls?

Mission Viejo’s Community Services Commission will take testimony on this proposed project on Oct 16th at 7 p.m. inside our council chambers. At this point in time two tentative locations have been identified inside city parks. While all residents and guests are welcome please tie up your dogs at the golden fireplug located by the front door. Thank you!

Note: Many years ago I had a colleague who sold electronic products on Long Island. He was toying with naming his firm “EFE Sales.” He told me he would provide “everything for everyone.” Sounds like our city council trolling for votes for the next election.

Juice readers. Would you support this vital project in your city if in fact you don’t already have a dog park?

Help me out here. Would you tell the rest of us if this represents a proper and necessary use of public funds?

Note: MY calls to both our city and Laguna Niguel have yet to be returned. If or when I do obtain some additional data I will amend this post. Specifically, the size of the proposed Mission Viejo dog park and the size and cost of Laguna Niguel’s park.

About Larry Gilbert