Kirk Kegel, San Clemente
I didn’t attend the San Clemente City Council meeting where new rules for dogs in parks were approved. It was a forgone conclusion that the vocal minority known as the SC dog lobby would get their way and dogs would be allowed in many more of our public parks which used to serve people. At the last meeting on these matters, I asked the council and the public in attendance, “Why has San Clemente not allowed dogs in parks and beaches for over 50 years?” I never got an answer.
To me, the obvious answer is the parks and beaches are meant for people. The risk of dog related injuries and lawsuits is high, and it only takes one child bit in the face, or one bloody dog fight, to ruin your whole day or life. These things have happened before and will again. I believe the expense, amount and nature of negative dog interactions has been largely hidden from the public and city government. Many bites and knockdowns are not reported and dog related injuries are handled privately or through the offending party’s homeowner’s insurance. I am a witness.
In this city if you happen to want to enjoy your home free of a neighbor’s dogs incessant barking or prefer to not interact with dogs or have their feces on your lawn or in your park, watch out. If you say anything, you will be labeled as a hater and a complainer, and told, “We can do anything we want,” and “If you don’t like it, why don’t you move.” Then you will know, like I do, that the Golden Rule has been suspended in this community.
The dog lobby will not stop. They want dogs permitted in every park and on the beaches. My right to enjoy local parks without watching where I step is meaningless to them.
Living in San Clemente over 35 years has made me wary of dogs. I believe there are still many responsible dog owners here. I still believe dogs are man’s best friends and we would not have our civilization without them helping us for millennia. I have been very unlucky with rude and selfish San Clemente pet owners. My right to simply enjoy my home and the outdoors in peace is frequently stolen and I consider this bullying. Even when I hike the ridgeline trail there are loose dogs disturbing wildlife.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. San Clemente is a unique place. We know what we have and we don’t want it ruined. Number one on the city mission statement is “Maintaining a safe, healthy atmosphere in which to live, work and play.” I am sincerely disappointed.