Calling police over loose dogs in a public park: crossing the line?
May 26, 2010 9:06 PM Subscribe
As I have a dog phobia, how can I feel comfortable in a park on the edge of town where people frequently let their large dogs run loose?
posted by datarose to Pets & Animals (62 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
There is a small park in a peaceful location on the edge of my sleepy small town. In the summer evenings, I have often tried go for walks there in the wide open space along the edges of the cornfields. However, it often happens that one or two people will already be at the park (or will arrive after I do) with a large dog, which they unleash and allow to run all over to get rid of excess energy.
Now, I'm a tiny person, and the kinds of dogs people let loose at these parks are both taller and heavier than me. I have a dog phobia to begin with, and the fact that these dogs are running loose adds to my anxiety when in the park. When I see a loose dog off in the distance, I turn around and begin to walk briskly away. But if the dog has caught sight of me, it usually starts racing toward me (sometimes barking) and will sniff and circle me, not heeding its owner's calls for it to stay back. I've never been bitten by a dog, but these incidents always arouse terror in me and make me afraid of returning to the park.
What bothers me most is that this public park has clear signs at both entrances stating NO DOGS ALLOWED. Therefore, I feel I should have a right to enjoy this space in peace, without being terrorized by loose dogs running around. (If the dogs were always on leashes, it wouldn't be a problem.) Yet the signs apparently deter no one, and since various people continue to bring their dogs to the park to run free every night, it seems the community as a whole must not have a problem with this situation--it's just me.
One possible solution for me might be to call the local police (non-emergency) and report any time I see a dog running freely in the park, but I worry that the dog owner will be upset if the police are called for something so "trivial" when the owner is a perfectly friendly person just getting some fresh air and exercise with his or her four-legged friend. I'm not sure the police would even take this kind of complaint seriously, if they would be willing to enforce the NO DOGS ALLOWED rule, when it would basically amount to ruining some older person's evening just so that one nineteen-year-old girl could walk in the park in peace.
Do you think it would be a good idea to call the police to report the owners of loose dogs running in this park, something which is socially acceptable but is ostensibly against park regulations and causes me great distress? If so, how (and how often, and when) should I go about making the complaints in order to be most effective yet not too much of a nuisance? If you think it would not be a good idea to call the police for this, then what strategies could I use to reduce the probability that loose dogs will chase me or to help me cope better with my phobia when dogs larger than I am leap toward me?