A CAUTIONARY TAIL
Ken Hoffman warns of the dangers in Houston dog parks
This article originally appeared on CultureMap.
My dog, Sally, is never going to a public dog park again. I've always had my concerns about dog parks, like aggressive dogs, potential bacteria and disease, and unsupervised activity.
But, I thought, I've heard good things about Officer Lucy Dog Park in Bellaire. Let's see if Sally has fun there. I adopted Sally last New Year's Eve. She's grown into the sweetest, gentlest, most adorable dog I've ever owned.
She's also grown into one of the biggest dogs I've ever owned. It didn't say that on the card on her cage at the shelter.
Here's what happened: I brought Sally to the dog park around 8 am last Thursday. There was a guy in there with three dogs. I asked him, "Are your dogs safe?" He said, "Yeah."As we walked along the fence toward the entrance, I noticed one of his dogs defecating. The guy made no effort to pick it up. I told him, "Hey…"
He said, "I got it, worry about your own dog." He looked annoyed that I called him out about his dog pooping.
Attack at the park
That was a bad sign and I should have turned around right there. The moment we entered the gate, his three dogs attacked Sally. It happened in an instant and it was a frightening, horrible scene. They had Sally pinned down. They were snarling and one was going after her neck. Sally was screaming, a sound I had never heard her make.
This was for real. It wasn't playing, dogs sniffing each other out. These dogs were hurting my amazing dog. I'll never forget the awful sound of growling and barking and crying.
Ken to the rescue
I jumped in the middle and kicked the dog going for Sally's neck as hard as I could. I yelled "Get off!" and "Do something" to the other dog's owner. He just stood there.
I grabbed Sally and slammed the gate behind. The other dogs were hurling themselves at the fence, still trying to get at Sally. The moment we were safe, here's my admission, I went into a rage hollering at the other dogs' owner. He never said sorry, just that, "...two of my dogs are in heat."
That took a terrible situation to 11. I unleashed a torrent of profanity. The guy didn't back off. He told me to F-off, and how about this, "I was here first. If you don't like it, don't bring your dog in here."
That made me 1,000 times angrier. There is a list of rules on the gate at Officer Lucy Dog Park. No vicious dogs, no dogs in heat, on and on. The problem — and this was my original concern about public dog parks — you can have all the rules you want, but if you don't enforce the rules, you have no rules.
I was furious. You never know how you're going to react in a situation, but if his dogs had killed Sally, I would have spent last Thursday night in jail. People dump on me all day long — get in line — but it you can't hurt my dog.
Continue on CultureMap to read what happened when Ken Hoffman called the police.