Two college students were videotaping last Friday in Virginia Avenue Park. It was typical arty, demo reel stuff. She was the cameraman and he was the shirtless young buck romping in the park. At one point he jumped up into one of the many trees, so she could capture that classic pose of sitting in a tree, the dappled afternoon light highlighting his natural good looks.
ENTER STAGE LEFT: PARK RANGER.
Blah, blah, blah, “… you kids … . Dangerous … . You could hurt yourself.”
Being the sarcastic, nosy guy that I am, I said to the ranger, “So a couple of kids committing the high crime of filming without a permit, huh?”
He replied, “Partly, but more so the climbing in trees. It’s dangerous and if something happened the city isn’t covered.”
Well that just annoyed the life out of me. Not 30 feet away, there were a dozen kids playing on the built-in equipment. I regularly see kids running around in the wet water feature, which is probably more dangerous with the water, and the hard concrete.
So I made a snarky comment about how we allow kids to play. Evidently I hit a nerve with him, and he immediately retaliated by asking me whether or not I have enough poo bags for my dog. I pointed out to him that there was a full bag in the trash with that day’s production. Not satisfied with my answer, he reiterated that I needed to have “poos plus one” to be in compliance and avoid a ticket.
That just annoyed me further, as I am an extremely responsible pet parent. Some would say I am over-indulgent, but really, just because my dog has table manners that are better than most people’s is no reason to take it out on the dog.
The nerve that he hit is a raw one for me right now. As over the past three weeks I’ve had two incidents with bad pet parents.
The first incident occurred as I was walking over to a friend’s house and we had just left the Ralph’s between Cloverfield Boulevard and 20th Street. Along that stretch of Olympic Boulevard there’s a greenway between the street and the sidewalk. It is a well-used piece of grass for pets to relieve themselves. As my dog and I were walking along, there was a very large golden retriever whose owner was busy cleaning up after him. That’s good, I’m a big proponent of cleaning up. The problem was that this large animal was very interested in my smallish dog.
The golden was on one of those horrid retractable leashes, and he was at what seemed to be the full length of 25 feet. This means that he was well beyond his owner’s capability of control. She struggled to get control, but the leash wouldn’t retract for some unknown reason. As she attempted to get control, and reel in her dog, it was evident to me by her statements that this was not the first time she had trouble with that leash.
This was irresponsible pet care in my book, not because her dog was so attracted to my dog and the initial fear I felt when he came bounding towards us, but because with that much free leash, he could easily have bolted into traffic on Olympic, which would likely have made for an untimely death for the dog, and a car accident for some unsuspecting driver.
The second event was two weeks ago. We were on our regular walk inspecting the alley, making sure there are no evil badgers hiding out ready to invade our neighborhood. We were halfway down the alley when I looked up to witness a woman reaching down and unleashing her dog, so he could run.
Now I have an animal, running at me and my dog, and I have no idea what he wants. I don’t know if he is aggressive or friendly towards me and my dog. I quickly reached down and scooped up my dog, as he is going nuts, barking his head off, and I’m being jumped on by this big black lab.
I was angry and yelled at the woman that she was irresponsible and what was she thinking? She said to me, “He just got off the leash.” That was a total lie, as I had just watched her intentionally unleash him .
Being a pet owner is a responsibility that I take seriously, and that is why these bad parents so annoy me. I believe in personal responsibility. The young man climbing in the tree didn’t need a park ranger admonishing him any more than I need to be reminded to clean up after my dog and keep him on a leash so that I can control him.
But clearly there are a lot of irresponsible people in this world, which is why we need park rangers in the first place I suppose.
David Pisarra is a family law attorney focusing on father’s rights and men’s Issues in the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969.