The LA Times has a new piece on the growing number of dogs in downtown LA and arrives at the conclusion that the "overpopulation" of dogs is a problem. We disagree. The dogs are not the problem - irresponsible dog owners are the problem. On our daily dog walks all over downtown, we see everything. We see owners who refuse to spay/neuter their dogs. We see owners who don't believe they need to follow basic leash laws (as in, have your dog on one) & we see owners who have their dogs so far ahead of them on extendi-leashes that dog fights are bound to occur. We see dog owners so afraid of other dogs, they freak their own dogs out and create conflict and the potential for dog scuffles. We see owners who allow their dogs to bark and snarl at other dogs without correction. We see dog owners who simply cannot handle their dogs, which is scary for everyone. We see dog owners who let their dogs pee on buildings, on car tires, on sidewalks. We see dog owners who cannot be bothered to pick up poop. None of these issues - none of them - spell a dog problem. They spell a dog owner problem.
In a city that has one of the largest shelter overpopulation problems in the country, it's a wonderful thing to see many new dog owners adopting dogs from shelters and giving them a go at a great life. We respect these folks and know that many downtown dog owners take the job seriously and are just as frustrated as we are by how terribly many other dog owners behave downtown. As the LAT article makes clear, their bad behavior gives a bad name to all downtown dog owners, unwarranted or not.
While some may deem the Downtown Center Business Improvement District's marketing campaign of doggie do's & don'ts (which we covered previously) ineffective, we applaud it. It is a step in the right direction. The challenge that this marketing effort faces is that the dog owners who need to heed this information are the ones oblivious and arrogant enough to assume the rules don't apply to them.
We've spent a lot of time walking all over downtown in the past five years and we've seen the changes. We are working closely with building management teams and HOA's to help educate residents on the basics of downtown doggie etiquette (elevators, for example, can create a host of problems for the uninitiated) to keep downtown's dogs and residents safe & to keep downtown a vibrant, livable (read: clean!) place. Just like every other neighborhood in Los Angeles, there are dog owners who feel they are above it all. To make the changes needed, it will take every dog owner having the tough conversations with other dog owners. It will take every dog service in downtown having the tough conversations with their dog owner clients. If we want a community that we love, it will take the community coming together to make it so. Are you up for it? We are.