Let’s take back our parks

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This topic contains 19 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  Ryan 7 years, 11 months ago.

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  • #1404


    For those of you who may not have seen it elsewhere, I recently had another bad dog experience in Minooka Park (I’d rather not get into the details here, let’s just say it was enough to push me over the edge). At this point, I am completely fed up with dog owners who have no regard for the comfort and safety of other park users and I am ready to make a stand.

    I remember some time ago Cameron said he liked Minooka Park but didn’t run there in the summers because of the unleashed dogs. I have refused to let irresponsible dog owners get the best of me and I have paid for this with a few serious incidents and countless minor incidents. I believe Pski and Double also commented on this situation a couple of years ago when I had an incident in the park. There are undoubtedly other runners and non-runners who have been scared away from the nicest natural area within the Waukesha (and New Berlin) city limits because of people who illegally and unconscionably choose to take over the park instead of responsibly sharing the park with all users. Minooka Park is not the only area in Waukesha that this is happening, though. I have been accosted by unleashed dogs in Frame Park, on the Fox River Parkway, on the Glacial Drumlin Trail, and elsewhere in Waukesha, as well as on the Bugline and in Menomonee Park in the Sussex/Menomonee Falls area, at Lapham Peak, and in various places on trails and parks in Milwaukee. I have also heard from numerous people from other parts of the country that this is a nationwide problem.

    I think it’s time we take a stand. Why should we let the illegal and irresponsible actions of a few people scare us away from the best parts of the cities we live in? We have as much right as these people to use those parks and trails. Why are we going to less favorable parts of the city and allowing these people who are illegally letting their loose dogs terrorize park visitors win? I will not stop running at Minooka Park because a few people have no consideration for the comfort and safety of others. I will take my bottle of pepper spray and protect myself. Who’s with me? Let’s take back our parks.

  • #14189


    …PSKI may be able to offer some advice. i haven’t been on minooka’s trails in quite some time…mostly because of the number of inconsiderate “dog people”. 🙄

  • #14190


    Try marking your territory with a well-placed pile of feces or via urination. 😉

    Definitely take steps to ensure your own safety, but you also might want to seek the strength to be found in numbers. Consider setting up a web page devoted to the issue and then write some letters touting the page to editors of newspapers as well as to local running, cycling, hiking/outdoors clubs and try to build a coalition that can give a stronger voice to the issue through their own particular groups and through a concerted campaign to apply pressure to local officials to improve safety/enforcement on these public lands. Do not expect results overnight, it may take a while before you start seeing the changes you desire. However, trying to go around doing it one dog/owner at a time would doubtlessly take much longer.

  • #14191


    First I have to say that after reading of your latest incident and of similar incidents, I realize that I’m really lucky in this regard. I run in a small park near my house. I see the same people all the time, and they move aside to let me by. Ninety percent of the dogs are leashed, and the ones that aren’t have always been really well-behaved. Before I moved here I ran in a large park in San Diego. That park had a leash free area for dogs to run free. I stayed away from that area and never had a problem with unleashed dogs.

    I agree with the previous comment about working with a group to address this issue. If there’s a running club in that area, I think it would be worth your while to contact them. There’s definitely strength in numbers.

    I know you’ve talked to animal control after previous attacks. Have you made any effort to talk to them at other times to try to get them (or park dept. or whoever has jurisdiction) to do any type of patrols and get irresponsible dog owners cited. Hitting them in the pocketbook may be the only way to have an effect and waiting until after an attack is usually too late to find the offenders. Although thinking about it, you’ll probably get the line about no funding and only having enough manpower to respond to specific incidents…

    For now I think the pepper spray may be your only defense.


  • #14192


    I just sent the following letter to the contact address for Waukesha County Parks, which wasn’t the first message they received from me:


    Ever since I moved to Waukesha County I have been a regular user of County Parks and Trails, especially Minooka Park, Menomonee Park, Fox River Park, and the Bugline and New Berlin Trails. During this time, I have been chased, tripped, and knocked down countless times by unleashed dogs, sustaining injuries at times and at times with park officials watching and doing nothing. I have repeatedly seen unleashed dogs right in front of park workers and they would do nothing about it. I have been told by a number of Waukesha County residents that they won’t even use the parks, especially Minooka Park, because unleashed dogs terrorize anyone who enters the parks. I see on your website that it is stated dogs must be kept on a six foot leash. I would like to know why this rule, as well as local leash laws, is not enforced within Waukesha County Parks, especially Minooka Park.

    This is not the first time I have expressed my concern about the owners of unleashed dogs illegally and against park rules showing no regard for the comfort and safety of other park users. These people’s actions are illegal, against park rules, and incredibly irresponsible and inconsiderate. Park officials and employees are doing nothing about this issue. In the past, when I expressed my concern about this issue, I was told it would be looked into but nothing has ever happened. I would like to know what is being done about this and, if nothing is being done about it, why a few individuals are allowed to terrorize the majority of Waukesha County residents who either fear for their safety whenever entering a park or choose, for their safety, to not even use the parks.

    Thank you,

    Ryan Hill,


    Depending on the response I receive from this, I will set up a webpage on this site, if not elsewhere, and start a grass roots campaign with runners and non-runners to make this issue more visible. As for now, I will be carrying my pepper spray and, as someone stated elsewhere, if Minooka Park gets the reputation as a park where this crazy runner pepper sprays unleashed dogs that he feels threatened by, which right now is truly any unleashed dog that gets close to me, dog owners will think twice about letting their dogs off leash.

  • #14193


    keep us informed…i’d love to hear what the response is.

  • #14194


    Ryan, I didn’t see the details but sorry to hear about your incident. We have the same issues in NJ. I really think the problem is magnified in the Spring. Due to cabin fever, I think there are more people that want to get outside with their dog that don’t know or care to adhere to the rules.

    I never run into dog problems in the Winter. Generally, the dog owners you see are out there on a regular basis and know the rules. Of course, there are always exceptions.

    The problem is what to do? Pepper spray is not unreasable in extreem situations. I personally don’t carry it. One of my running buddies like to bark back and it works. I’m not kidding, give it a try. A nicer method is to politely tell the dog owner the rules. If that doesn’t work, Kick the dog! 😆

  • #14195

    Steve From NJ wrote:
    I never run into dog problems in the Winter. Generally, the dog owners you see are out there on a regular basis and know the rules. Of course, there are always exceptions.

    I pointed this out not too long ago. In the winter, very few, if any incidents. It seems like those who break the rules and don’t show consideration to the comfort and safety of others are the same people who don’t want to face the discomfort of exercising their dogs in inclement weather. Of course, as you pointed out, there are always exceptions to every trend. That’s why they are trends and not absolutes.

    Steve From NJ wrote:
    The problem is what to do? Pepper spray is not unreasable in extreem situations. I personally don’t carry it.

    Until Saturday, I could say the same thing. Saturday, I carried pepper spray for my first time ever during a run. I didn’t like it at all but I also felt just a bit safer when entering the park than I had in the past. No more less alert but more ready to defend myself in case of an incident.

    Steve From NJ wrote:
    One of my running buddies like to bark back and it works. I’m not kidding, give it a try.

    I’ve always been told facing the dog and giving a stern “NO” usually works. Usually being the key word. Don’t get me wrong, the pepper spray is still a last alternative for when I truly feel threatened. It’s just that there are dogs out there that nothing but physical action works for. The pepper spray is the safest form of physical action for myself and, likely, for the dog also.

    Steve From NJ wrote:
    A nicer method is to politely tell the dog owner the rules. If that doesn’t work, Kick the dog! 😆

    Unfortunately, telling the dog owner the rules usually doesn’t work (at least around here) because the owner knows there are leash laws and simply doesn’t care. Also, telling the owner the rules doesn’t help when the dog is closer to you than the owner and running fast enough to be on top of you within a couple of seconds. This is when a stern “NO” is attempted, followed – if needed – by whatever means of personal protection are deemed necessary. I’ve talked with animal control people and they stated they prefer pepper spray to physical action (kicking, throwing a rock, etc.) because physical action can result in injury both to the person and the dog, while pepper spray rarely results in any injuries. I’ve also talked with a former police officer (maybe PSKI can verify this) who stated the police could consider throwing a rock or kicking to be an act of aggression or an attack while using pepper spray is more of a form of self defense. In this sense, legally speaking, you can avoid trouble by using pepper spray instead of acting more physically.

  • #14196


    Dear Ryan-

    I would love to see what happens when “the crazy runner with pepper spray” tries to pepper spray my German Shepherds.  For your own sake, I hope you can run a 5 minute mile.  I know they can 🙂

    I hope you don't carry any gel, that may cause a digestion issue.

    Maybe we can get rid of the wildlife, too, so that they don't interfere with your run. 

    Perhaps you should stick to the road? 

  • #14197


    I've seen German Shepherds get pepper sprayed. I wouldn't be worried about what happens. A direct shot to the face puts them on the defensive very quickly.

    Here's a crazy thought. People who own dogs should be required to know not only what risks they place fellow human beings at but also what risks they place their own beloved pets at when they allow them to run loose uncontrolled.

    As for this particular park, in the time since I originally posted this, law enforcement and parks authorities not only agreed with me but stepped up enforcement and are issuing fines of up to $100/violation (that could be up to $300 a shot for someone allowing 3 dogs to run loose).

    Perhaps dog owners should stick to obeying the law and practicing some common courtesy.

  • #14198



    I'm sorry to hear about your frustrations. I like the suggestions already presented (except for CesarRunning).

    Perhaps it would also be useful to work with dog groups on a campaign to create some off leash areas in the parks — places where dog owners could legally have their pets off leash. We have those in several of the parks in my county and I have not had any negative encounters with dogs in parks. Though I don't run in parks as often as you, I have run in them enough that I would expect to have encountered some problems if things were as bad here as they obviously are there. I cannot imagine that dog owners in this area are simply more responsible than they are where you live. I think that they've provided alternatives and they enforce the rules.

    Of course, even in those areas, irresponsible dog owners can ruin the park for others. Owners should still only take their dog off leash if they are well trained with a good recall. When we lived in town, we had a few incidents at the off leash parks with irresponsible pet owners and we stopped going.

    The only dogs that I have met who were illegally off leash on the multi-use trails were dogs that would respond promptly to their owner's voice commands. Rather than being threatened, I was impressed with the relationship between dog and dog owner in those cases.

    Good luck,


  • #14199


    Steve, just to note, CesarRunning dug up a 6+ year old topic. Since that time, I contacted officials a few times until a few officials agreed that fines of up to $100 per violation should in fact be assessed. In addition, a large fenced in off leash area was added to the park. I also moved away from where this was happening so, to be honest, I don't run there any more. However, things were dramatically improving with the combination of the off leash area and the assessment of fines. Interestingly, as I move farther out into the country, the dogs are kept under better control. I always thought it would be the other way around with the threat of cars, etc., in more urbanized settings.

    As with you, I am always very impressed with well trained dogs that respond to voice command consistently. Unfortunately, they are rare.

  • #14200

    Andrew A.

    Bad as it was for the 'jogger,' it turned out far worse for the dog: http://www.cbs12.com/news/lucie-4730061-dog-port.html

  • #14201


    Saw that one floating around a while. While I hate the thought of a dog being killed, when it's in self defense or in defense of one's child, nothing is off limits. It's sad that it had to come to that but the blame, as usual, lies with the dog owner. Didn't know the dog was loose? All the dog's shots are up to date but she doesn't know about rabies?

    I'm also skeptical of the “never acted this way before”. You always hear that line. I even once heard “he has never bitten anyone before” from a dog that roughly a year earlier had bitten me.

  • #14202


    God forgive me, but well done. Dog owners don't understand that the dog has to be leashed, they understand that the dog has to be chase everybody that pass around, i am really sick of that situation, where i run the owners almost always has him/her dog unleashed, i always have to stop almost to a walk, the other day , there was a woman that had 3 big dogs unleashed, and then they are complaining about one hitting or killing his/her dog.

    Dogs are animals, dogs bite because they have teeth, nobody can say ” the dog doesn't bite”. bull&*%$&^

    Sorry but that situation always makes me mad.

  • #14203


    The road in front of my neighbor's house is not a park, but this post is dog related.

    I've been running to and from work since last June. At one house a half mile from where I live, two dogs frequently come out to chase me. One is a miniature pinscher and the other is some kind of a mutt that reminds me mostly of a herding dog — medium sized. Neither dog respects my space at all. I wouldn't be concerned much if they were both miniature pinschers, but the larger of the two is much more threatening and persistent. The way it usually works is that they spot me well before I reach their house. The larger dog stands off in the yard until I am parallel with its position and then charges. (It used to come out into the road, but learned that I would run directly at it.) When it gets about 6' away, it starts snarling and charges in even closer before wheeling away for another pass. A couple of times I've nearly brushed it with my right leg as I was running. Much too close!

    I've been alternating between ignoring them or trying to chase them back into their yard. Last week, I was doing an interval workout on the way home and was in the middle of a hard effort as I passed their house. The larger dog got much too close for comfort and though there was no biting or anything, I decided that something must be done. So, I've started picking up 3-4 rocks from the gravel road before I reach that house. For some reason, the dogs did not come out for a week after I started this practice though I was usually on the other side of the hill when I picked up rocks and there was no way they could see it. Fortunately, I remained consistent in picking up the rocks and I was prepared when I met them again. On Tuesday, the larger dog met me on the way home. As per it's usual routine, it waited for me to get close before charging. Just as it started to snarl, I unleashed my rock. I missed, but not by much and the dog stopped in its tracks and watched me run by.

    Yesterday morning, both dogs charged out, but I was already past their driveway. The big dog stayed by their drive and the little dog gave chase. I turned around and chased the little dog back the way it came and noticed that it has gotten very fat.

    This morning, the big dog attempted two passes as I ran to work. Each time I threw a rock and it never got too close. I think that it had time for a third pass, but it appears that the rocks have stymied it for now. I am not a very good shot with the rocks — especially since I continue running as I throw. I don't really expect to hit the dog — though I must admit that I really am trying to do just that.

    In contrast, there's another house just a hundred meters away from the house where the dogs give me problems that also keeps dogs. In the past, they had dogs that would come to the road. One was a rottweiler. Although the rottweiler was bigger and more threatening, it did respect my space — giving me at least 8 feet of clearance. Still, I was careful never to turn my back on it. It did a lot of posturing and I did not want to test whether or not it was just bluffing. If the owners heard, they came out and called in their dogs and they were more effective in that than the average dog owner. (Usually, I find that I can deal with dogs more effectively if the owners are not present.) Later, the wife told me that they'd had to put down the aggressive rottweiler. I felt bad initially, but they assured me that I wasn't the only reason. They still keep dogs and they still have one dog who is often outside off leash. That dog never comes to the road, but despite that they usually call the dog inside as soon as they hear it barking at me. I wish all dog owners were like that.

  • #14204


    Dog Owners should keep their dog closer to themselves than other people.  I thank people when they take extra care to control  their dog when I run by to prevent it from lunging from me.  Positive Reinforcement 🙂

    But I do admit that I yell at people if they let their dog on a retraceable leash cross the road  to chase me. 

  • #14205


    I really hope we runners do not sink to the level of the terrible owners of the dogs.  Although I will admit I get frustrated with the situation when a dog comes after me it is not the dog's fault.  It is the owner's fault.  The owners need to be punished not the dog.  Don't get me wrong pepper spray should be used if necessary.  Physical confrontation can also be used when a person is threatened, but in the end the people are the problem.  I owned a husky for a number of years and loved running with it, but if it did something wrong it was my fault not the dog's fault.  As an example, if a dog poops it is not the dog that needs to pick it up it is the human.

    Every voice matters so thank you Ryan for taking a stand.

  • #14206


    Bad as it was for the 'jogger,' it turned out far worse for the dog: http://www.cbs12.com/news/lucie-4730061-dog-port.html

    Twice in that story they say the dog was in it's yard. Yet they never state the dog ran out into the street to attack. Did I miss something?

  • #14207


    Although I will admit I get frustrated with the situation when a dog comes after me it is not the dog's fault.  It is the owner's fault.  The owners need to be punished not the dog.

    Absolutely agree. That's why I finally got the county to enforce their leash laws after years of trying to get them to do so. Unfortunately, I moved out of that county not long after that. I do still run in the parks when I run from work, though, so I do still benefit from those efforts and I'd like to hope that others are also benefiting.

    Unfortunately, when the incident is happening, you have to defend yourself, which means by any means necessary keeping the dog from harming yourself. I always prefer the least injurious/painful (for both myself and the dog) course of action but, sometimes, it's you or the dog. I'd much rather cause pain to the owner than the dog, knowing the owner is the one that's at fault and the dog is just following its natural instincts, but that doesn't help me when it's the dog bearing down on me and, unless the owner threatens me also, our legal system would not favor me if I go after the owner.

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