Caution urged for area dog parks

Animal care, behavior training important for park safety

SAN ANTONIO - Reports of a dog’s death in a dogfight at a Universal City dog park, as well as six other Animal Control calls, is sending some dog owners scurrying to safer places.

But there may be no need to fear, provided you are practicing good animal care and behavior training.

One woman who was bitten at a San Antonio dog park recently and was forced to undergo rabies shots, admits she should not have jumped in between fighting animals.

But the owner of the dog who bit her was not very cooperative.

“They just said, ‘Well, my dog is vaccinated, then just took off,'” says Ratchane Poe.

She says she went to the emergency room and began painful rabies shots just in case the stranger’s dog had the disease.

Other owners admit dog parks get crowded and rowdy, with too many dogs that are not yet socialized in the environment.
Violent attacks can happen when a new dog enters a park.

“Some pets won’t act the same at a dog park,” notes Alamo Heights Pet Clinic ceternarian Dr. Dan Kirby. “They change and become different and it can be dangerous,” he warned.

He also says an outbreak of bronchitis among dogs last year is being attributed to sick animals at dog parks. But that’s not all a dog can walk away with.

“Everything that they carry is concentrated there, so if they have hookworms or roundworms or whip worms, or some other parasite, your dog can pick them too,” Kirby said. 

Experienced dog park users and Kirby agree on some basic tips to keep your animal safe there.

  • Bring your own water, since sharing water encourages the spread of parasites.

  • Clean up your dog’s feces and encourage other others to do so as well, which also can help cut down on the spread of illness

  • Keep your dog on a leash and avoid initial contact with other dogs until your dog is socialized with the new environment.

  • If your dog does not get out much, move slowly into the dog park so they make a calm adjustment.

  • If you really want to be extra cautious, let your dog romp in a neighbor's yard or in a family member's yard -- somewhere you're certain of the vaccination status of other animals.

Many dog parks have rules posted on site, but the city of San Antonio has a website that lists the rules, park times and other information.


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