I was shocked to read the little plaque placed in the Englewood dog park by a grieving owner. On October 30th, a very small, perhaps even smaller than my small dog, an ADA disability helper dog named Cricket was killed by another dog. I searched on the net for confirmation of the story, finally finding it in the heartrending posting of pictures of Cricket both before and after the attack on Flickr.
The dog in question was only described as having been just rescued from a dog pound. One wonders if its aggressive behavior was learned in the pound or it was placed in the pound because of its aggressive behavior. Still, I was dumfounded. As a dog person, I had, quite apparently naively, believed that dogs (unless they were pit bulls trained to fight) never killed each other and always worked things out in the end. It turns out that this may be true in packs of wild canines but in dog parks, they attempt to work out a pack structure with often violent results. I also had always figured that the dogs would regard a dog park as neutral territory, not to be fought over. Again this was probably uninformed. In researching the subject, I found out that there had been a number of fatal dog on dog attacks all over the country. While the numbers were small, I began to wonder, as the author of one site suggested, whether the entire concept of dog parks was ill-conceived.
One site was headlined by a dog on dog attack death at Tampa Florida dog park
In addition to the dog death in Tampa there were reports of dog deaths in New York, Oregon and elsewhere in Florida. In one case the killer dog was a standard poodle.
Another site simply made the statement "Dog Parks: Why They are a Bad Idea"
The author suggests that a dog owner take a walking stick and/or can of pepper spray to a dog park. He states that the dog, being a pack animal, looks to its owner for protection. It is up to the owner to protect a dog in a dog park. Of course, dogs are a great deal faster and quicker than humans and this is not always possible. The post included information on other fatal dog on dog attacks in dog parks in Rhode Island, Texas, Maryland and other locales. The breeds involved varied from fighting dogs that one might assume might be involved in attacks, i.e., a pit bull terrier mix and a Rottweiler that killed a dashound to a ridgeback and, most puzzlingly a greyhound that killed a smaller dog.
The dog park in Plano Texas, where one dog death occurred, had actually followed another of the author's pieces of advice, that being to have two parks, one for larger dogs and one for smaller animals. In this case a small dog entered a big dog area, but it was also pointed out that in order to enter the small dog park you had to go through the big dog park. A second entrance was added. Funny to think that in this case Denver is less progressive than Texas. The Englewood dog park in question located at the northern end of Belleview Park, does not segregate dogs by size.
I talked with Christine McClintock, Cricket's owner about Cricket. She still continues to be as devastated as any of us might believe. She is disabled and Cricket was trained for 9 years as an ADA dog. When he noticed other dogs fighting he would try to break it up. In this case, however, the other dog hit him so quick he never saw it coming. If you want to sign a condolence card for Cricket that is at http://www.Colorado_Hummingbird.com. Christine has received condolences from around the world. Cricket was actually a fairly famous dog, to the point of even being included in Children's stories. Christine also told me she had heard from a woman whose dog had been killed in Cherry Creek Dog Park in the City of Denver.
In Cricket's case, he was clearly a very small dog, not unlike mine. As a result I will not be taking my dog to a dog park again anytime soon.