Ordinance addresses aggressive dogs at Kerby Dog Park

By: April Lehmbeck | Grosse Pointe Times | Published February 25, 2015

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GROSSE POINTE FARMS — If your dog doesn’t play well with others, Grosse Pointe Farms’ Kerby Dog Park may not be the right place to hang out.

To maintain a safe and fun environment for all the dogs — and people — who use the park, the City Council has approved a vicious dog ordinance that gives administrators the ability to ban dogs that are overly aggressive. The council voted unanimously in favor of the ordinance during a meeting Feb. 9.

“‘Vicious’ sounds a little extreme,” City Manager Shane Reeside said. “It’s really for dogs who are acting in an aggressive manner.”

Anyone who sees dogs behaving inappropriately at the park can now file a complaint with the Public Safety Department, which will investigate the incident. Parks and Recreation Director Richard Huhn — with input from Reeside, Public Safety Director Daniel Jensen, or both — will then use the findings of that investigation to “determine and assess the appropriate action to be taken, if any, up to and including revocation of Kerby Dog Park privileges,” according to the ordinance.

“We’re just writing down rules we were informally (enforcing) to make sure everyone gets their due process,” Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Derrick Kozicki said.

Reeside echoed that sentiment, saying that the ordinance merely formalizes a policy that had already been standard practice.

“It’s been very seldom (that we’ve had a problem), but from time to time, we have had a complaint where a dog was aggressive to another dog,” he said.

Mayor James Farquhar, a regular dog park user who estimated he’s there about three to four times per week, said he’s seen overly aggressive dogs at the park.

While he insisted, “There’s only been a couple of issues — it’s nothing rampant,” the mayor also said his dog was attacked twice by another dog. Most dog owners will voluntarily remove a dog that isn’t playing well with the other canines at the park, but Farquhar said this ordinance will enable city officials to do something in cases in which owners don’t address the issue.

“By and large, it’s amazing how well the dogs interact,” Reeside said. “It’s usually the exception when we have dogs not getting along (in the park).”

The mayor said the dog park is as much fun for the dog owners as for the dogs, with people socializing while their pooches romp.

“I think it’s a great experience,” Farquhar said. “Dog owners love it. … I enjoy it immensely, and more importantly, my dog likes it.”

The ordinance also gives dog owners who have been banned from the Kerby Dog Park a chance to appeal that decision with the City Council, whose decision “shall be final and binding,” according to the ordinance. The Kerby Dog Park, which is for Farms residents, is located adjacent to Kerby Field. For more information or to obtain a dog park pass application, visit grossepointefarms.org.

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