Saturday April 6, 2019
Flag Pole Hill is a tiny 107 acre patch of Dallas Park located at the north end of White Rock Lake. But despite its tiny area, it is besieged with Dallas Animal Control and Dallas Park Rangers looking for dogs off-leash, even if owners are just playing ball with their dogs, teaching them social skills with other animals and people, or generally having a good time with their dogs without ever showing any aggression toward other dogs or people. Tickets can run close to $300 just for playing ‘fetch’ with your dog.
Now, aggressive dogs off leash can be a real problem. As can abandoned or stray dogs that are hungry, injured, or looking for food. But this isn’t descriptive of the dog and dog owners walking their dogs at Flag Pole Hill. Generally, these are ALL well behaved dogs that get along with every other dog, and their owners are responsible dog owners that make sure their animals are safe and represent no threat to others. In ten years of walking around Flag Pole Hill, we’ve never met a bad dog or bad owner. Many of the people walking their dogs are local residents in the Flag Pole hill area and have been walking their dogs with one another for decades. All of our pets and owners have always enjoyed each others company when we met in the trails, roadsides, and fields. In fact, there has never been a reported aggressive dog incident at Flag Pole Hill.
So why all the emphasis on patrolling for off-leash dogs? Well because Dallas has an animal control problem, but it’s not here at Flag Pole Hill. The problem is in South Dallas. According to a study commissioned by the City of Dallas with the Boston Consulting Group in 2016, approximately 8,700 loose dogs were reported in South Dallas. The number of strays in North Dallas couldn’t even be estimated because there were so few stray dogs observed. Furthermore, nearly 85 percent of dogs in South Dallas are not fixed. While more than 80 percent of dogs in North Dallas are fixed. Obviously, stray or abandoned dogs in North Dallas are not an issue. The issue of stray, abandoned, and unleashed dogs is undeniably in South Dallas.
So if the dog issue in Dallas is undeniably in South Dallas, then why all of the attention to North Dallas Parks (i.e. Flag Pole Hill)? Is it so the citation distribution appears equitable across all of Dallas, regardless of the proportional distribution of where the problems lie? Or perhaps Dallas City Government believes laws should not be enforced in one area without equal enforcement efforts applied everywhere? If that’s the reason, well it isn’t practiced in almost any other area of law or code enforcement. Powered scooters and rental bikes continue to be stranded on sidewalks and private property. Alleys in some areas are grossly overground and obstructed, while code enforcement continues to focus in only certain neighborhoods. If the City of Dallas can see the wisdom of spending time and effort where it is needed, then why not with this dog issue.
What can possibly be the logic of using so many “Park Rangers” to patrol a 107 acre patch of park in North Dallas? And why do we need the many “Animal Control” patrols that frequent this small park area when no dog related issues are being reported? This park is already well visited by Dallas Police vehicles that patrol this area several times on a daily basis keeping this park safe and secure. So the safety of park visitors cannot be considered an issue by any reasonable person.
Is the City of Dallas so flush with tax money that they can splurge spending on unnecessary ‘animal control’ activities like this where it’s obviously not needed, instead of focusing them where they are needed? Or is there some other reason why the City of Dallas wants to make sure North Dallas receives the same leash law enforcement efforts as South Dallas whether necessary or not?