when are the dog police napping?
March 24, 2010 6:26 PM   Subscribe

does anyone have the inside scoop about the hours / schedule of the dog police? i'm not talking about the police dogs, i'm talking about the folks who drive around in their vans handing out tickets for having your dog off leash. i live in denver, colorado. i have two well behaved, trained dogs and i live next door to a nice little park. the problem is that there is a hefty fine attached to being caught having your dog off leash. the general rule of thumb according to my neighbors is 7 am to 7 pm 7 days a week. do the dog police get government holidays off? do they get snow days? any info would be helpful. (please do not remind me that there are sanctioned "dog parks": the one near me is a small area for a large number of dogs without a tree or a blade of grass in sight. it is a disgrace.) thank you for any info.
posted by zoesmom to Pets & Animals (15 answers total)
I think this is a super-local question and you need to call your local police department for the answer.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:34 PM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

The answer really is predicated on the assumption that there is in fact a roving "dog police" van (not to say it doesn't exist, but where did you hear about this?). If this dog ticketing operation does exist, very likely it is either someone working for the parks department with the authority to write tickets, or it is animal control (which in many US jurisdictions operates under the authority of the local police department). I'd say in both of those instances your odds are much better outside of the 9-to-5 grind, but of course we're just speculating.
posted by crapmatic at 7:04 PM on March 24, 2010

Disclaimer: answer-non-answer.

I am sure your local dog police have extremely limited hours and too little staff to randomly patrol city parks. However, in a year living in Los Angeles I have seen/heard about the following things happen to dogs which are off-leash at public parks: 1) unleashed dog approaching leashed dogs in a friendly way, bitten in face; 2) squirrel runs by, dog disappears into traffic, fatality (that I heard second-hand); 3) bad interaction with child [child's fault], scary dispute between parents and owner. All these dogs, to the best of my knowledge, were well trained urban dogs.

For this reason, it's very likely that I -- or somebody who's likeminded and has had trouble in the past -- will call whoever needs to be called if we see an owner with unleashed dogs. I would do this because I like dogs, not because I don't.

So (this is the part of the non-answer that's an answer) even when the dog police are off duty, your neighbors and fellow dog owners may not be, and you could still be caught and fined, depending on how quickly your local law enforcement / animal control responds to calls.
posted by Valet at 7:31 PM on March 24, 2010 [24 favorites]

a) this is a question about how to break the law
b) I love dogs, but sorry, those laws are there for a reason
c) dog parks almost always end up without grass (your local conditions are not a coincidence or a local failing; it's what generally happens, in my observation)
posted by salvia at 7:54 PM on March 24, 2010 [11 favorites]

There's no grass at the dog park because it is a park for the purpose of dogs playing. Dogs often like to dig around and generally scratch up grass, and so if there are tons of dogs around all the time, that's what happens. It would be way too costly to upkeep a nice lawn, and I don't really think the dogs care.

There's really no way to know what the hours of your particular animal control/police/park people/whatever keep. Like others said, even if none are actively patrolling your nearby park, people can call them if they see a violation. There are leash laws for a reason. Your dogs might be well-trained but your park is not an area designated for off-leash dogs. People may want to use the park for other purposes, like running, sports, playing with kids, etc., without unleashed dogs getting in their way or coming up to them, even if the dogs are well-behaved.
posted by ishotjr at 8:14 PM on March 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

I have read (on a recent Yelp thread, and in a news article) of the Denver police locking people up overnight on bench warrants, based on the exact thing you are asking about (dog off leash in park).

I think that you should consider the Denver PD as an extension of the dog van in this matter.
posted by zippy at 8:25 PM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I don't know what park you're talking about, but as a Denverite, I've seen tickets given to dog owners at Cheesman Park at 11:30 pm. They don't seem to sleep at all. The cops in Denver are famously sticklers for such things, and probably wouldn't hesitate to tag you if you've got a dog off a leash at two in the morning.

Sorry, but my personal experience is: there is no getting around them. The only thing we could do at Cheesman was band together with other dog owners; we'd all gather around in a large circie, keeping our dogs inside the circle without leashes, and just hang around making sure things were okay. We knew they couldn't arrest all of us, so there was strength in numbers.

Your best bet is probably to keep your eyes peeled for someone else with their dog off the leash, and then have a chat with them about this. Again, power in numbers - that kind of knowledge is power. Maybe there are windows for walking the dog, but they're the only ones who'll know about it; and you may even be able to set something up with their help to 'keep a lookout' in such situations.
posted by koeselitz at 10:53 PM on March 24, 2010

I didn't want to derail this thread but I have to agree: the laws are there for a reason. I've seen one of our neighbors let their dog run around unleashed on our complex lawn/parking lot and told myself next time I'm just going to call the cops.
posted by tremspeed at 4:42 AM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Don't be a scofflaw owner; keep your dog on a leash. If you don't like it, move to a community without a leash law. As a cyclist I've heard of and experienced several cases of "friendly, nonviolent" dogs chasing and biting or bringing down cyclists.
posted by Doohickie at 8:02 AM on March 25, 2010

As a hiker and daily walker in the woods, I've had more than one encounter with off-leash "friendly" dogs in parks, one of which landed me in a hospital. Find a dog run for your pooches.
posted by Elsie at 8:08 AM on March 25, 2010

Nthing there being a reason for off-leash laws. Please don't be that person - you're sharing your city with other people.
posted by Jupiter Jones at 8:12 AM on March 25, 2010

I love having my dog off her leash, but I don't do it in town or even out in the rural area where I live. We either go to a dog park or to a Wilderness area or TVA land where loose dogs are permitted. As other people have said above, it really isn't a good idea to have your dogs off their leashes where it's against the law. In addition to you being legally culpable for breaking the leash law, you would likely be liable for any injuries or damages caused by your loose dogs, including any bites or car/bicycle wrecks that occurred.

You should double-check that regs are the same in the West as they are in the East, but around here dogs are verboten in National Parks and Forests, but welcome and unrestricted in Wilderness Areas. Here's a list of Colorado wilderness areas.
posted by workerant at 8:48 AM on March 25, 2010

I live in Boulder, a very dog friendly town, and Animal Control is based out of the Humane Society and can show up at any time. Do not assume that you are safe violating leash laws at any time of day. Neighbors call animal control and the police can write tickets as well. Tons of people violate leash laws in Boulder and it creates animosity between people with leashed dogs/no dog and the violators. Even with our voice/sight control tags, people still get tickets from open space rangers because they have their dogs off leash in a leashed area or simply don't have the tag.

Dog parks are grassless because dogs play there. Your neighborhood park will soon be grassless if dogs play there. I know because we turned a lovely baseball diamond into a muddy mess. I go to one of the local dog parks, get covered in mud and dog slobber, in all kinds of weather because it is a space for dogs to play freely and safely. I can even tell people with little kids to get out if I want. (Not that I do but its nice to have rules that are made for the dogs). Off leash play is really important for my dog's well-being. I cannot afford to pay the ticket so we go to the dog park as nasty as it sometimes is.

Train your dog in voice/sight control, get a tag and come hiking in Boulder!
posted by rachums at 10:12 AM on March 25, 2010

If the parks are grassless, it's because there aren't enough of them. The dog parks in the SF East Bay that I've seen have plenty of grass.

It's like a human park - if the number of humans exceeds the capacity of the park, it will be bare. It sounds like Denver has an insufficient amount of off-leash dog park space.

posted by zippy at 11:42 AM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: ok, thanks for the input everybody. i appreciate everybody's opinion and point of view. its always good to hear from "the other side". lets call this one "done".
posted by zoesmom at 7:11 PM on March 25, 2010

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