To the editors:
Ben Joravsky’s report (Neighborhood News, July 15) on the attempt to ban dogs from Evanston parks gave a fairly balanced view of the situation and ended on a constructive note. I can’t help commenting, though, on the twisted logic expressed by some of that city’s dog owners, which reminds one of arguments used by smokers’ rights groups. The psychiatrist’s assertion that it would be “untherapeutic” to keep dogs out of parks indicates pretty well the self-centered view of owners who don’t seem to care that playful, unleashed dogs can be a danger to children, bicyclists and others, including park wildlife; that not everybody feels so casually about stepping in dog shit and not realizing it until the rugs at home smell; and that many people are very afraid of the large breeds which people use for bodyguard purposes. I doubt most people find other people’s dogs “therapeutic.”
I bicycle to work every day through Lincoln Park and my experience there, and elsewhere, is that the conscientious dog owner is well in the minority. I have run into dogs many times while cycling because the unleashed animals did not realize that the bike path was my roadway. I have saved squirrels and birds and wild ducks from early death by dogs, who were allowed to stalk park wildlife for fun, and whose owners used the “F” word on me when I dared to interrupt their little game. I have seen kids scream in fear as a large dog ran toward them. I have noticed how infrequently dog owners carry any means of removing their dog’s shit from public or private lawns and sidewalks. I shudder for blind or unlucky pedestrians. Dog shit and urine may be natural fertilizers, but like any fertilizer they burn and destroy vegetation when applied full strength. I doubt many home owners are grateful for the free fertilizer dispensed undiluted on lawns, flowers and shrubs.
Finally, to Alderman Ann Rainey, I suggest that before deciding that the well-organized dog owners who created the Evanston brouhaha actually represent majority views, you do a little research. Your impulse for proposing the restrictive dog ordinance was “over 100 complaints in the last year.” Many people only complain when truly outraged, and have a lot of other things to worry about. I doubt the majority of Evanston’s voters would object to either increasing restrictions on dogs or at least strictly enforcing laws already written. I’m thinking of finding out why Chicago’s existing laws on dogs aren’t being enforced.