City moves to create dog park ordinance
By RICK KELLEY
HARLINGEN — Four years after the Harlingen Rotary Bark Park opened for canine business at Victor Park, city officials are working toward establishing a city ordinance for dog owners that may pack a bite.
The rules for bringing dogs to the park are posted on signs at the park, but that may not be enough, officials say.
“You’ve got people who have the dogs and they really don’t know the proper etiquette for dog parks,” Javier Mendez, the parks and recreation department director, said yesterday. “We’ve had some instances where people have taken their dogs that are in heat and we’ve had some issues.
“We’ve had dog fights,” Mendez told the parks and rec board. “Even though the information is there on the sign, we need to pass an ordinance to be able to enforce it. That’s the whole purpose.”
Mendez stressed that his research into writing the new draft ordinance, which still must pass the city’s legal team and the City Commission, is about the expectations the city has for dog owners in controlling their animals’ behavior.
“When we created the dog park we never created an ordinance or any regulations,” Mendez said yesterday, “so that was the purpose of this, to create those so that we can enforce certain rules and regulations out there. And of course when we build a second one (dog park) at Lon C. Hill Park, this would follow through with that.”
After the meeting, Mendez said the city also wanted to ensure those using the dog park were operating correctly and within the city’s rules.
“Another thing we want to make sure of is people are not using it for commercial purposes and they’re not having training out there,” he said. “We want to make that clear as well.”
The board approved sending the draft ordinance to the city attorney, revising a contradiction that stated the dog park would be open from sunrise to sunset and also from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The board decided on the latter times for the sake of clarity.