It’s Time to Allow Leashed Dogs In Some of Our Parks
March 17, 2018
Lake Wildwood is the only major community association in our area to ban dogs from their parks. While other communities have changed to accommodate the love residents have for their dogs, our community has been unwilling to amend CC&R restrictions to be more dog-friendly. We are asking you to support an amendment that will enable your friends and neighbors to bring their leashed dogs into only two parks, Meadow and Vista, and then not on weekends or holidays.
Our beaches are still closed due to an E. coli event last summer. The source of E. coli was attributed to the presence of geese and their droppings, both of which can be reduced by the presence of dogs, leashed or off leash.
Contrary to claims made by some who just don't like dogs, many have reported that geese fly off when a leashed dog gets close to them. We challenge those people who that say leashed dogs are ineffective at chasing off the geese to allow us to prove them wrong. Allowing leashed dogs into Meadow and Vista parks can prove or disprove that point and will free up Goose Dogs to concentrate on chasing geese from Commodore, Hideaway and Explorer Parks.
The LWW Dog Club has committed to install bag dispensers at Meadow and Vista Park, as it has in other areas. Responsible dog owners always clean up after their dogs and many pick up what others have left behind. That's why the Dog Club sponsored the Adopt A Street program.
The presence of dogs is known to promote tranquility and happiness in humans. Dogs are used in hospitals, care homes, airports and disaster areas to bring calm and reduce anxiety. Out of respect for those who are not comfortable with dogs, we agree to not take our dogs into Commodore, Hideaway, or Explorer parks.
Sharing the Parks with other Critters
Our lake and parks are the equivalent of a wildlife refuge, filled with fish, deer, foxes, squirrels, raccoons, turkeys, ducks, and especially geese. Wild animals that inhabit the parks leave their droppings. As a result, our parks are not now and never will be sanitary. Let's respect all animals, including dogs, which many of us see as members of our families.
The Parks and Recreation Committee's Article
Board Committee policies state that, "Under no circumstances should a committee chair or members speak on behalf of the Board or the Association." Nevertheless, without Board approval, the Parks and Recreation Committee published a scurrilous and defamatory attack on dogs and the LWW Dog Club in its March 2nd TWI opinion piece. In nine of its reported concerns regarding dogs in the parks, the Committee asked who would help remedy those concerns? It then responded to each of its questions with, "Not the Dog Club."
That same committee also launched another last-minute sneak attack on the 2015 ballot to allow leashed dogs in our parks, again without approval from the Board. Many of the people who sat on that committee in 2015 are still on the committee. And, despite having been admonished by the Board previously for breaching committee policies, they have again violated those policies.
As a matter of law, it is clear that any member, including Board members and committee members, have a right to support or oppose any proposed amendments during an election campaign. However, they must do so individually and at their own expense. If the Association provides any candidate or member who advocates a point of view on ballot issues with access to association media during a campaign, the association must provide equal access to all candidates and members advocating a point of view on the issues.
The Dog Club demanded equal access to counter the Parks and Recreation Committee article and asked the Board to appoint a Board Hearing Committee to review violations of statutory and Association policies regarding improper electioneering. At very least, we argue that the General Manager should be required to review every article written by a standing committee before submission to TWI.
Unfortunately, even those actions and giving us this space in the TWI will not Unring the Bell rung by Parks and Recreation.
Risks and Responsibility
As to legal risks, our association should consider adopting Lake of the Pines rules regarding dogs in their parks and streets:
• "Pet owners shall be solely responsible for the conduct of their pets.
• The Association, its Board, Officers, Employees, and Agents shall have no liability for any damage or injury to persons or property, caused by any pet."
Anyone who's walked along the streets of Lake Wildwood knows it can be a dangerous experience. Shoulders are unprepared and often unavailable, many lots have foliage that blocks walkers and hangs out over the road, and, yes, there are speeders and non-resident drivers. That experience is even more challenging when walking one or more dogs on leash.
Providing limited access to two parks could offer dog owners a significantly safer walking experience.
Please Vote YES
We ask you to remember that the Dog Club is the only entity in Lake Wildwood that's working hard to improve sanitation and other conditions related to dogs. We sponsored the Adopt a Street program to encourage dog owners to improve sanitation by picking up ALL dog waste; we purchased poop bag dispenser and waste stations and installed them near parks and around the community; we encourage dog owners who do not pick up to do so and even provide them with bags for that purpose; we have conducted numerous behavioral and health training sessions for dog owners; and we have sought to improve the socialization of dogs through twice weekly Doggie Play Days at Western Gateway Dog Park.
Please VOTE YES to leashed dogs in Meadow and Vista Parks so we can continue that effort and begin to enjoy sunsets, reading, picnics, etc. with our four-legged family members and well-behaved best friends.