Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Motion to Dismiss

For many years the park in Dog Mtn has been full of kids and dogs playing, and everyone got along well—there were never any problems. I met a lot of great people and when we needed to be out of town, for instance, neighbors would take care of Callie, and we do the same for our friends.

Several months ago, some people moved into the neighborhood with a dislike for our dogs—one of those people moved in across the street from the park. What they have done is call the police every time they’ve seen dogs in the park off-leash—like Callie and I playing ball for example. This was like every morning as they would drive to work—they’d call the police. When they were coming home from work, or when ever—they would call the police when they saw dogs in the park.

From what we can tell, these few people never come to the park. They just know that there’s a leash law and when they see one off-leash, they’re on the phone to the police. I’ve been the only one at the park, me and Callie, and suddenly a patrol car would cruise by. With Callie on the leash, the patrol car would just speed off. Had she been off the leash, you can bet that the cop would come down to talk to me.

You would think that the police have better things to do—and they do—but they got so many calls that their solution was to start threatening us—in a very unprofessional manner—with arrest. This got them lectures by some of the retired people of Dog Mtn. Imagine having some old lady getting in your face for you harassing her about her little poodle playing fetch with the grandkids at the park. So you’re a cop and you threaten grandma with arrest—you’re an asshole.

So yeah the cops harassed and threatened us—they would park their patrol cars at the park—and we’d wait them out—and they’d leave in frustration. And all the time, the lady across the street was calling them to get the dogs out of the park.

The next tactic was a big animal control vehicle with an animal control officer going down to the park and waiting for us to show up. The whole thing was about intimidation—which really backfired because every dog owner—from retired Marine Corps Cornels, to little old ladies gave the poor sod a piece of their mind.

For Callie and I one evening, the animal control officer came out from behind some bushes, and asked me to produce a dog license. Callie was on the leash by the way… and since I could not, he wrote me a citation. My court date was set for June 23, 2010 at 9 o’clock in the morning.

Okay I didn’t give the guy any lip or anything and he eventually let the enforcer façade down a little. He said they had to answer all the calls about the dogs off-leash in the park. Too many calls were coming in—from one person I said—and he kind of nodded his head in frustration. In a way I think he felt a bit embarrassed for given me the citation, but it was clear that the law enforcement strategy was to intimidate and hassle all the dog owners –to the point where no one would come to the park anymore—which is the case now, Gentle Reader of This Blog—the park is empty.

So I show up to court—with Callie’s dog license, and of course the citation is dismissed immediately. But I had to wait around for the hearing, and with all the other citizens that had shuffled into the courtroom. Mostly young Anglo and Mexican cowboys who must have partied a little too hard, got DUIs, got caught driving with suspended licenses, and I think a few for under-age drinking. They were all good natured, fit and tan, and smelled of cigarettes, dust, and horses. Although Marana, the town I live in (suburb of Tucson) has grown to include malls, shops, and golf courses, etc—it still remains for now, a farming and ranching community. The cowboys looked a bit out of place in the town’s new pristine and modern civic complex—but the judge seemed just as good natured and did take time to make sure they knew what the process was and what they needed to do to get clear of these matters.

I’ve ridden out by the ranches where these cowboys work and they’ve always been friendly and always will share the road with cyclists. That’s the Cowboy Way.


Sir Bikesalot said...

Theres a special place in hell for all the people who's lives are so devoid of life that they must screw with other peoples lives out of spite. They'll be there with the vandal's, the tyrants, and the guys who leave poop on the toilet seat or glass in the road.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, if there is a leash law in your town, the authorities are duty-bound to enforce it(even if it is honored more in the breach than the practice)...that's just the way it is.

I agree that the new neighbors are being complete douches about it though. Maybe you can all get together and monitor the newbies code status for them. I mean, if they want to be sticklers for the letter of the law....

I still have one person in my neighborhood that is OC about the height of my tree limbs above the sidewalk, and how much the vegetation in the back encroaches on the alley. (I know the Code Enforcement officer by first name now) I fight back by measuring very carefully, and trimming the least amount possible to be legal...thereby driving this person to distraction.

Bruce's Bike Blog said...

We have been working with the HOA about an area in the park (behind the first park if that makes sense) where the dogs can't be seen, and the HOA seems to want to work with the dog owners in a positve way to resolve this problem.

Most of the dog owners are affluent, retired, and have a sense of entitlement--which often doesn't help. They don't like being told by police what they can or can't do--

On the other hand--the Marana Police were total pricks in this matter, and they just would go ape-shit if people didn't comply to their orders. They made a lot of mean threats.

People used to respect them and welcome them in the neighborhood, now they are suspisious and resentful.

The park still remains empty in the evenings as people don't want to watch their backs for cops lurking in the bushes.

Cheers! Bruce

Stefan Walz said...

Imagine your disdain at work if one individual kept you busy because they continually asked for your assistance? You might begin to take it out on other innocent parties because you are bound, by law, to assist this one individual that monopolized your production and time.

In short, a rotten apple has infected the Marana police department with their persistent lack of obsessive disrespect for dogs and humans.

Do you need to have your dog on a leash in the park? Sure do. Do you need to drive the posted speed limit on the road? Yup. Are you going to obey either of these minute laws consistently? Hell no!

It is a shame that your neighbors are so arrogant. Have you considered inviting them to your home for dinner? Perhaps this would diffuse the situation or give them a shoulder to cry on. Either way, having the HOA intervene is a spineless and uncaring alternative...the HOA is supposed to pave the roads and light the streets...they are not mediators and should not be forced to enable people to be good neighbors. That, my friend, is something we should have learned from our parents a long time ago.