Gilbert dog owners push for separation of pooches in park - East Valley Tribune: Gilbert

Gilbert dog owners push for separation of pooches in park

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Posted: Friday, December 22, 2006 5:02 am | Updated: 2:02 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Suzie was playing at Gilbert’s Cosmo Dog Park a month ago when her fun time turned scary. The 11-month-old mixedbreed dog was bitten under the eye by a pitbull, after a group of older, bigger dogs singled her out.

“It was just kind of dogs in a pack,” said Suzie’s owner, Jean Hinson of Gilbert. “One really lit into her.”

Suzie had fully recovered Thursday, and was again playing at Cosmo without

incident.

Town officials say what happened to Suzie is not common in the park. But many dog owners have been contacting the town asking for a “timid dog” area to separate more aggressive or boisterous dogs from smaller or more timid ones.

In response, town officials say they are talking to consultants about how to create an area for more timid dogs, spokesman Greg Svelund said.

The town had originally planned a timid area, but determined that because owners are asked to keep aggressive dogs out of the park altogether, there was no need for the separation, he said. In fact, having a separate area suggests that some dogs are OK to be aggressive, which is not the case, Svelund said.

All dogs are asked to be neutered or spayed, trained to respond to voice commands, and never be aggressive, he said.

Town Councilman Don Skousen said he wants to see a special area as a way to ease concerns from owners of smaller dogs who often keep their dogs on leashes because of their concern, rather than allow them to run free and play.

“Some dogs are really friendly and nice, and very active,” Skousen said. “They really like to run and play, tear the heck out of everybody and things. They’re not aggressive, it’s just that they’re running and playing much more.”

On Thursday afternoon, small and big dogs played together peacefully, and their owners said it all comes down to adults being responsible for training their pets.

“I don’t think I’d bring my dog here if I had a small, timid dog,” said Amy Parsons, who traveled from north Mesa with boyfriend Bryan Gerhardt to the park with Staffordshire terrier Hiro. “They just play rough.”

Bart Ferguson’s 18-monthold beagle, Sherman, leaped and jumped with Ricardo Shriput’s 1-year-old much larger Great Dane, Xerxes.

“My dog is pretty gentle with smaller dogs,” Shriput said. “Some dogs are not socialized well when they come to these areas.”

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