After an incident last summer in which a Rottweiler killed a Shih Tzu, we said the City Council should take a closer look at the local dog park. The goal of the examination, we said, should be – to the extent possible – a park safe and free of aggressive acts by dogs against other dogs or owners.
To these ends, we commend the work of a committee formed by the city after the July 17 incident to suggest ways of improving safety at the park. Committee members included representatives from the Sioux City Police Department, Sioux City Parks and Recreation Department, Animal Control, Siouxland Humane Society and Noah’s Hope Animal Rescue.
In general, we support several recommendations proposed by the committee and passed on Monday by the City Council on first reading.
– Separation of large dogs from small dogs of 30 pounds or less.
– Installation of a lock system at the entrance. The committee recommended a coded lock system, but Councilman Pete Groetken suggested a fob system through which data would be provided on users of the park. We urge the city to consider Groetken’s idea of a fob system, even though it would cost more money than a coded lock system, because the data it provides would be valuable in the event of an incident involving an aggressive dog.
– Initiation of a permit system. Under the committee’s proposal, dog owners wishing to use the park would pay an annual fee of $10 for a dog licensed in the city and $20 for a non-Sioux City licensed dog. A fee of $10 would be charged for each additional dog. Dog owners would get permits through Animal Control or the city clerk’s office.
– Staffing the park with “Dog Ambassador” volunteers.
“The volunteers would be the eyes and ears of the dog park,” Matt Salvatore, the city’s parks and recreation director, told us. “They would educate users on the rules, check for permits or licenses and report any issues to Sioux City police or Animal Control.”
We understand adoption of these recommendations will not eliminate completely the potential for irresponsibility by individual dog owners and negative incidents involving dogs.
However, we believe these are reasonable, prudent steps through which the possibility of something bad will be diminished. For that reason, in our view, they are changes worth making.