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Your Thoughts: Proposed Changes to Rules of Nearby Dog Parks

Arlington County is considering banning children under the age of 8 from entering fenced dog parks

In recent weeks there has been a lot of talk about a proposed dog park rule change under consideration by the Parks Department in neighboring Arlington County. The proposal currently in front of the department would ban children under the age of 8 from entering dog parks in Arlington. Children ages 8 to 14 would have to be supervised by an adult in order to enter the park.

The rule change is intended to protect small children within dog parks. Even with adult supervision, the concern is that dog play can get out of hand quickly and people might not be able to react fast enough to move young kids out of harm’s way.

Fairfax County has similarly restrictive rules already in place. However, in Alexandria, there are age limits of sorts in place. But as long as children under the age of 16 are accompanied by an adult, they are allowed inside all fenced dog parks in the city.

I want to be clear that I have not heard of any rule changes under consideration for Alexandria dog parks. The rule in Arlington even has several hoops to go through, including legal approval and more public input. But with Arlington nearby and parks like , I wanted to see what others in our neighborhood thought.

Nathan Cross June 08, 2011 at 09:15 PM
I frequent the Shirlington dog park and am often made very nervous when I see little kids running around. I am often shocked that any parent would allow their toddler to be exposed to that obvious danger. However, I abhor overly protective rules and regulations. I think a highly-visible sign that reminds parents of the danger has to be enough. Our society is far too quick to embrace these sorts of overly-protective measures. People must be trusted to use a bit of common sense. Besides, I can't see how a rule banning children would actually work. Who will enforce such a rule? A "watchdog" officer? I personally want our officers to spend their time doing more valuable things. It is most often the case that the parents I see with children have brought their kids AND dog(s) to the park. I do not want to limit those families ability to enjoy the facility to the fullest extent they can. I think the law should not be changed, things are fine as they are. Let the decision be made by the fully informed parent.
Adam Gerard June 09, 2011 at 11:48 AM
PETA also got wind of this story (maybe because they are headquartered just a few hours south in Norfolk) and they had an interesting response. Rather than banning any humans from dog parks, they felt dogs that are not spayed or neutered should be barred. From a letter written to Arlington County: (http://vpri.me/mSbpwd) "From aggressive outbursts to litters of puppies, unsterilized animals can cause all kinds of problems," says PETA Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. "By allowing only 'fixed' dogs into Arlington's CCAs, the county would make parks safer and send a strong message to dog guardians that spaying or neutering their animal companions is a necessary, responsible thing to do." Currently, in both Arlington and Alexandria, only dogs that are in heat are specifically banned from dog parks. Though Alexandria does promote spaying/neutering your dog and offers an assistance program for reduced-cost surgery for those that cannot afford it: http://vpri.me/lb5bRN
Janine D. Harris June 09, 2011 at 04:40 PM
Amen. Responsible dog day care places like Your Dog's Best Friends already requiring neutering bye 7 months. It's a good policy.
Dana Damico June 09, 2011 at 05:48 PM
I vote for Nathan as the voice of reason here.
A dog owner July 20, 2011 at 02:09 PM
Call me crazy, but do we really need another law or regulation telling us what we can or can’t do in a public park. The answer is not for Arlington to become a “nanny state”, but rather for people to grow up and be responsible for their own pet. If you’re animal is not fit to be around kids or adults it should not be allowed in any public park.

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