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.