|Dogs at play... maybe.|
From the free newspaper know as The Washington Examiner comes this article:
The Arlington County Parks Department is considering banning small children from its dog parks.
Children under the age of 8 would no longer be allowed in any of Arlington's eight dog parks under the proposal. Children between 8 to 14 would have to be supervised by an adult at all times.
The rule change, said Keith Fred, who helps sponsor the Shirlington Dog Park, is needed to protect the children, though there have been no reports of a child being hurt in any of the parks.
What's next, banning short ugly women? I kid. Actually I am conceptually for this ban (yes, both of them).
I do not think small children should be allowed everywhere, and I do recognize that small children are probably "an accident waiting to happen" at a dog park.
That said, I assure you a lot of the adults that go to dog parks are accidents waiting to happen as well. And yes I actually go to Arlington dogs parks, which are a varied thing from quite excellent to pretty dubious, depending on which one you go to.
Here's what happens too often at these dog parks: People bring every manner of medium-to-large dog imaginable (small dogs tend to stay away from dog parks), and let them loose.
Some of the dogs are old and arthritic, some are young and boisterous, some are well-socialized, and some are fresh from the pound and pretty clearly overwhelmed.
At the entance gate to many of these parks it's like a gang rape, with every dog in the park pushing in to knock and butt-sniff whatever new dog has showed up. This might be 20 dogs at once pawing and pushing at the ass of a new dog still at the feet of his or her owner. Does that sound like potential trouble? It is!
Too often people bring large dogs with no manners to the park, let them loose, and then act shocked when their 8-month always-biting Border Collie is knocked over and pinned to the ground (or worse) by a Pit Bull or a Shepherd that has had enough.
Dog parks are a fine idea (I am all for them), but they are also an "accident waiting to happen" for a lot of dogs and novice dogs owners, as well as small children.
Here's an idea: How about a simple set of signs with a simple set of rules, guidances and procedures so that new dog owners can learn the value of settling down over-excited dogs, learn to control their dogs better as they enter and leave, and learn how to handle dogs in the event that altercations do occur (because they will)?
Sometime the best solution is not legislation, but education.
And yes, by all means, explain that bringing small children to a dog park is not a good idea. Go ahead and ban little kids if you think it necessary. But more work needs to be done when it comes to dog park decorum, and not all of it can be done with a simple ban on small kids. Owners need more guidance -- and the regulars need more social permission (hence the signs) to instruct the new fools.