Monday, April 4, 2011

Shouters who drown out the barkers...

Sunday, Dan and I drove around the Cleveland area with Mason. We stopped at Sonic in Parma, then took a leisurely route past the airport, through the Rocky River Metroparks reservation - which lead to a stop at Lakewood’s Dog Park for Mason’s enjoyment. I’ve driven past this dog park before, but never went inside. South Euclid has a small dog park, but Lakewood’s puts ours to shame in terms of size. Not only is it larger, but several trees within the fenced area give the space some variety. Of course, Lakewood is a much larger city than South Euclid, so this is understandable.

Lakewood’s Dog Park was the subject of a lawsuit between that city and Rocky River. The suit was the result of complaints from some residents on nearby High Parkway, who complained that noise and odors from the dog park were negatively impacting their way of life. (As an aside, I noticed several unattended piles of dog droppings at Lakewood’s park that would never be seen in South Euclid.) The suit received a great deal of media coverage and fomented resentment on both sides of the border. There were accusations that the plaintiffs’ were politically connected and exerting undue influence to get the city of Rocky River to take Lakewood to court. A noise study was undertaken and it was determined that the dog barking was not a barrier to the plaintiffs being able to enjoy their backyards. The court concluded the plaintiffs’ complaints were deemed unfounded and the case was decided in Lakewood’s favor – which meant the dog park could stay and that Rocky River would have to eat the court costs.

Sunday, as we were enjoying the dog park, we heard only the occasional bark - this despite the area being filled to full capacity. The real source of noise was traffic, particularly motorcycles whose riders were enjoying the warm weather. Did the plaintiffs ever consider filing a lawsuit against motorcycle riders? Of course not. They went after the easy target, the dog owners.

Had the plaintiffs won their case, the Lakewood Dog Park would have been forced to shut down, meaning that hundreds of dog owners would be unable to use that park, due to the complaints of a few connected and aggressive individuals.

Fortunately, the court decided that those who were shouting the loudest were not automatically entitled to get their way.

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