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PETA Weighs in on Arlington Dog Park Debate

by ARLnow.com May 26, 2011 at 12:44 pm 5,363 58 Comments

A controversial proposal to ban young children from Arlington’s dog parks has caught the attention of PETA.

The animal rights group has written a letter to Arlington Parks Division Chief Caroline Temmermand with a “friendly suggestion” — to ban unsterilized dogs from the county’s dog parks.

“Dogs who haven’t been ‘fixed’ are nearly three times as likely to bite as are dogs who have been sterilized,” a PETA rep told ARLnow.com. Plus, the rep said, dogs that haven’t been spayed or neutered “can contribute to the animal overpopulation crisis.”

“By allowing only ‘fixed’ dogs into Arlington’s [dog paks], the county would make parks safer and send a strong message to dog guardians that spaying or neutering their animal companions is a necessary, responsible thing to do,” PETA Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch said in a statement.

See PETA’s letter to the Parks Department, after the jump.

May 26, 2011

Caroline Temmermand
Division Chief, Parks and Natural Resources
Arlington County, Va.

Via e-mail

Dear Ms. Temmermand,

I am writing on behalf of PETA and our more than 2 million members and supporters worldwide, including thousands across Virginia, in light of the Arlington County Department of Parks’ controversial proposal to ban children younger than 8 in community canine areas (CCA). We have a related suggestion that would make Arlington’s CCAs safer for everyone, young and old alike, who uses them: Ban unsterilized dogs from entering the parks.

Allowing only dogs who have been spayed or neutered in CCAs is a smart and proactive way to protect children, adults, and the dogs who use the parks. Dogs who haven’t been spayed or neutered tend to be more territorial and more aggressive, and statistics reveal that unsterilized dogs are nearly three times as likely to bite as are dogs who have been altered. Preventing unsterilized dogs from entering the parks would substantially reduce the likelihood that a child or another dog will be knocked down, bitten, or even killed by an aggressive dog.

Banning unsterilized dogs would also help prevent another type of accident—litters of puppies. While dogs in heat aren’t allowed in Arlington County’s dog parks, the threat of a dog’s being impregnated elsewhere is real. There aren’t enough good homes for all the dogs who already exist in Arlington and communities across the country, and some 3 to 4 million animals must be euthanized in animal shelters in the U.S. every year. Just one unaltered male dog can impregnate dozens of unspayed female dogs. Each new puppy who is born takes away a chance at a home from a dog in a shelter or on the streets, or they will end up homeless themselves.

Making sterilization a requirement for entrance into Arlington’s CCAs would send a strong message to dog guardians that spaying and neutering their animal companions is the responsible thing to do, and it would make the parks safer for everyone. May I please hear from you that you will consider allowing only spayed and neutered dogs into Arlington’s CCAs? Thank you for your consideration.


Tracy Reiman
Executive Vice President

  • Thes

    I will not be making any puns on this topic.

  • Dog Lover
    • Chris

      Man, I thought it was confusing when my car tells me that my door is in fact a jar.

      Mind. Blown.

    • GoVegArlington

      The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) is run/funded by the big shots in agribusiness. (Basically, the people who want to make money and stop any nonprofits/political groups in their way.) They also run campaigns against Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Humane Society of the United States.

      I’m not even a PETA supporter anymore, but I *was* an employee once upon a time. The reason their euthanasia rate is so high is because PETA ends up with the worst of abuse cases, where euthanasia is a blessing compared to the suffering these animals would have to endure.
      Work one day in animal advocacy and you would understand.

      • Roxy

        The CCF funds the PETA kills animals ads, via Tobacco and Meat corporate lawyer Rick Berman. His “PETA Kills Animals” ads demonized PETA’s low-cost euthanasia services for sick or injured animals, which helped shelters that would otherwise have to shoot, freeze, or otherwise kill sick or injured animals.

        To learn more about Rick Berman and the “Center for Consumer Freedom,” why not check the 60 Minutes special?: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/04/05/60minutes/main2653020.shtml

  • Cluck!

    Happy Anniversary Meghan! Woof!

  • Not a fan

    And just who would enforce this recommendation should it be adopted – the “Parts” Patrol?”

    • Stu Pendus

      Probably the same people who would enforce the No Kids law.

    • Thomas

      And the same people that enforce that dogs must stay on leashes in parks today.

    • TSA!

      They have a lot of experience inspecting luggage.

  • dynaroo

    Nobody has suggested only letting “fixed” children in yet? Come on, guys, ramp it up.

    • Arlwhenever

      I think the same policy ought to apply to the patrons of all the bars in Clarendon. Their would be a lot less action and a lot more peace and quiet around bar time.

      • Novanglus


  • TGEoA

    I’m all in favor of PETA members being sterlized.

    • Just Me

      Me too!!!!

  • Rosslynite

    Just reducing the possibility of a dog biting a child bt allowing only neutered/spayed dogs does not eliminate the possibility that a neutered/spayed dog will bite a 5 year child who might be pestering it. But I am sure that PETA doesn’t care a whit about that as long as they can use this debate to grandstand for their own issues.

    • imissTX

      Exactly. That is all this is – a venue to advertise their standing on an issue. What a stupid, unenforceable idea.

      • Stu Pendus

        How do you think they are going to enforce an age-ban on kids? Are they going subpoena the birth certificate to see if a kid has turned 8 yet, and is not really 7 years 11 months?

        • imissTX

          You’re inferring that I am in support of banning young kids from the dog park. I could not care less, actually. I don’t have a dog (or a kid) in this fight. Literally.

          You do raise a good point, though. But they could at least reasonably keep the really young kids out. Who’s volunteering to check for surgical scars or lack of testes?

          • Stu Pendus

            I was not really inferring anything, just pointing out that either has its problems with enforcement.

            I think they are both kind of like the original seatbelt law. Not a primary offense. If a dog attacks another dog and is found not to be fixed, then it places liability. If a dog attacks a kid and the kid is found to be under 8, then it fixes liability.

            In other words, the lawyers end up being the primary enforcers, and that’s one of the main reasons this whole debate stinks.

          • dynaroo

            Parents would have to be responsible for keeping their underage kids out. You’re right, if they didn’t, they’d be on shaky grounds if they sued for a dog bite. But that’s the point.

          • Stu Pendus

            Just like dog owners would be responsible for keeping their un-fixed pets out in the other alternative.

          • imissTX

            So in essence it would be less of an enforceable ordinance, and more of a “proceed at your own risk” sort of guidline.

          • dynaroo

            I believe it would be enforceable, but obviously it would only actually be enforced if someone complained and there was a park ranger there, or called in, to enforce it. In other words, probably rarely enforced.

            Kind of like how adultery is a crime in Virginia, but it’s only prosecuted when there’s a divorce or particularly spited lover involved (and even then, rarely).

        • Novanglus

          If this were the zoning office’s jurisdiction, that’s exactly what they’d do.

    • Lucy P

      Nope, and kids shouldn’t be allowed to torment dogs in a dog park, but the facts are that sterilized dogs are less likely to be aggressive or bite, and millions of dogs are killed for lack of good homes every year. Spaying and neutering would reduce the likelihood of bites and prevent more dogs from being born only to be euthanized. That’s a win-win in my book.

  • Heidi

    This is a great idea. Given that 3-4 million animals are euthanized annually in the US for lack of good homes, sterilization should be mandatory for ALL dogs.

    • dynaroo

      ALL dogs? You want to make dogs extinct?

      • Heidi

        6-8 million animals are dumped at shelters every year. Half are euthanized. There’s not exactly any danger of running out of dogs.

        • dynaroo

          I know, but you did say “ALL”.

      • RCW

        Well played sir, well played

    • GoVegArlington

      I’m with you, Heidi. Breeders only add to the overpopulation. *Every* pet owner should be getting their animals spayed and neutered.

    • Dennis Carlson

      Bravo! Yes, ALL dogs should be sterilized. Killing millions of healthy, socialized dogs for lack of a home every year is something we should all be appalled about.

  • CW

    Wow, I thought more people would be saying what I’m thinking, which is that this is a pretty darn reasonable, evidence-based proposal consider it’s coming from PETA.

    • Rosslynite

      I believe the PETA stance on neutering/spaying your pets is quite sound. I have just never heard anyone claim in any forum that the reason anyone should do this is to prevent dogs from biting children. I would further suggest that PETA does not really care from an institutional perspective if dogs bite children (at least this is an issue I have never seen them tackle before), but is merely using this issue to push its real agenda. In that sense it seems a little slimy to me; like a shady politician.

      • Skeptical

        What exactly is PETA’s agenda if it isn’t animal welfare? Dogs that bite children or adults are often euthanized, so if a dog is prevented from biting, everyone comes out ahead.

        I question some actions that PETA has taken, but I’m not impressed by organizations that attack them on behalf of agribusiness, and they’ve done some impressive work exposing the real slaughterhouses — you know, the ones where animals are treated as if they are inert commodities that can’t feel fear or pain. It always weirds me out when people treat their dogs like four legged children while chomping on a sandwich made of, say, a pig that lived and died miserably.

        If you’re going to scoff at PETA (and I’m speaking to everyone who’s doing so on this thread), I’d say save some scoffing for the people who believe their Arlington and its taxpayers should underwrite and support their whole dog-owning experience.

        • Skeptical

          oops in last sentence: believe *that*

    • Bob

      Umm.. How can an enforcer tell by sight if a female dog is spayed? Clearly we need to require documentation to be carried at all times… Show me your papers, comrade! I have owned unneutered male dogs my entire life. Not a one has attacked another dog or a person… neither has any ever “escape” and impregnated a female dog… nor have any suffered ill health as a result… Instead, how about we designate half the dog parks for wimps, and half for people who aren’t afraid to allow properly trained and behaved dogs to enjoy being dogs without all the interference from you snively types who love government micro-regulation of every blessed aspect of daily life?(!)

      • Maria

        The government wouldn’t be telling you you can’t HAVE a dog that’s not neutered. They’d be telling you you can’t bring it to the dog park. This would be more like how they probably tell you you can’t go walk around the Smithsonian museums with pants on. You can walk around your house with no pants on, but there are certain places you can’t go like that.

        I’m not saying I agree or disagree with any of this; I’m just saying government regulation is everywhere, but it doesn’t regulate “every blessed aspect of daily life.” Just some. 🙂

        • Maria

          Whoops… can’t go walk around the Smithsonian museums with *no* pants on. Haha… comes out a little different the other way.

        • CW

          Yes, exactly. You can’t bring a loaded handgun into a courthouse. You can’t drink whiskey while walking down the traffic lanes of wilson boulevard. You can’t drive a car without a seatbelt. Swimming is not allowed at the bases of major hydroelectric damns. These are government regulations that are intended to minimize risk. You people out there talking about “properly trained” this and “properly trained” that “being dogs” are being illogical. Yes, that’s how all the dog bite stories go, “Oh, little Buster was such a good little properly trained pit bull until he ate Johnny. We just never thought Buster could do something like that!” Your argument is like saying that “properly driven” cars shouldn’t require their operators to use seatbelts.

          • CW

            damns = dams 🙂

      • DCChughes

        But why would you even keep a dog that was not neutered? What’s the point, unless you’re a breeder. You’re just asking for a problem. And just because you haven’t had one yet, doesn’t mean you never will, especially if you’re taking an intact male dog to dog parks and allowing it to run off-leash. Let’s try a little social responsibility here!

        • Bob

          So I ask again, my socialist friends who apparently are quite content with not being allowed to wear pants in the Smithsonian… how do we actually enforce your supremely logical and common sense new law? I’m still waiting to be edumicated as to how to detect whether that male dog is intact or actually has neuticals, or whether that seemingly “normal” looking female dog or not has been spayed? Your papers, please! I suspect I won’t get an answer, because there isn’t one I can think of…. So this silly argument for yet another pointless law/rule was over before it began… but it is fun seeing silly people make good use of their advanced degrees lecturing me on how bad a person I am for not surgically altering my dog for no valid reason. I enjoy looking up your noses at you in your brown flip flops and Priuses. =*

          • Maria

            You do know socialism describes the interaction between politics and *economics*, not regulation of dog parks and/or sterilizing dogs, right?

            And for the record, I, for one, used my advanced degree to lecture you about wearing pants to the Smithsonian, not about you getting your dog neutered. I don’t really care if your dog has his parts or not.

  • Pablo Escobar

    In other news, PETA announced its third-annual Meatball Cook-off.

  • GoVegArlington

    I’m surprised this isn’t already a requirement for public dog parks! But now that I stop to think about it, tough to regulate – especially with the bitches. (yeah, I said it.)

  • Mickey

    Another Government takeover….now dog parks? This ranks right along with trying to legalize immigration….When they march, march them to INS and ship them home. Re: Dog park? If I was having to pass judgement on this as an Arlington rep, I would throw the bum out that even suggested we do anything….as a matter of fact, have him pick up all the DS for a week. We have NO problem, so don’t fix it. We have enough regulations.

    • jjbug

      You must be about 25 years into your history. The Jim Hunter Dog & People Park nor any others were not available 25 years ago! And the plantings along Clarendon streets, with trees encased in small quarters, were not ready for the dog urine that kills them so quickly! We know dogs can be trained to change the lives of those who live with blindness, or even certain blood chemistries that their dogs can recognize and seek help for their caregiver! How’s that! We enjoy the comfort dogs provide in many ways, but we still have to figure out many other questions about the future.

      I speak as one raised by a father who as a side job was dog office for my small town in MA. He reached into the cellar hideaway in our home many times for the gun hidden there to go out and address a possible rabid dog. All lost dogs were tethered to the (former chicken) coop adjoining our laundry lines drying our bedding and clothes. My father built a small fenced exercise field for these dogs which they could access by pushing a free-swinging door. If he picked up a stray w/o problems, I had 6 days to parade the dog all about town to seek a new owner before the dog would, by law, have to go to the SPCA for euthanasia. I had a fair record of success in preventing the loss of these strays. I have never wanted to own a dog myself, but enjoy seeing both sons have brought a dog to their homes.

      Are you able to recognize that the urban part of Arlington does have too many dogs?

  • Will Rubin

    Moderators, please don’t sensor the comments here! You’ve given voice to a radical group (as many other comments have pointed out) I’d like to make very clear to people their real agenda. Many people, especially older people, still think PETA is a moderate voice and should be made aware of who they really these days. If Al Qaeda were to send a reasonable letter would you post that? If so, wouldn’t you expect others to tell people how disingenuous this letter really is and to point out their real agenda?

    • Banksy

      You’re comparing PETA to Al Qaeda?? Get a grip, dude…

      • Will Rubin

        No, I’m making a point about censorship by showing an over the top example … but one that people can understand. The word is not the thing, just a representation.

  • enna

    Admittedly new to this discussion, and speaking only from experience:
    Responsible pet guardians have their pets “fixed”.

    True and good breeders rarely (if ever) expose their commodity to the hoi polli.

    Responsible parents monitor their offspring (at dog parks and elsewhere).

    Animals and people mixed together: sometimes there will be a conflict.

    Where has common sense gone?

    I believe in Responsible pet guardianship, as much as I believe in responsible parenting.

    People that select animals and/or children as accessories to their life (without complete commitment to either and both) are the ones that should be banned from the dog parks!

    I don’t think we can legislate the message of right, good and courtesy to others, except by standing up and engaging with others personally when we see wrong.
    It’s only right to do so.

    I am an animal lover and supporter, and I don’t back PETA.

    I support parenting and I don’t have human children.

    I’m an Arlingtonian!

    I’m neither For OR Against this issue.

    Maybe we as neighbors can band together and really and truly stand up when we see and experience conflict.

    It’s quite easy to post a message on this board, but how many people have the will to confront a person when
    A). Their animal is out of line
    B). Their child is out of line
    C). They witness someone in an uncomfortable or unsafe transaction

    I love this neighborhood and community, and anyone that doesn’t should just leave.

    The remaining should band together and set a new example of what community is.

    Why can’t we all just find a way to get along????

    • Captain Krunchy

      We have found the new Arlington County Charter, my friends.

      As for the rest of you (and you know who you are!), “just leave”… before I start to cry!

  • Ostrich

    Instead of forcing people to alter their dogs, maybe we can use these millions of unwanted dogs for some kind of stem cell research for veterinary medical research, so that wanted dogs can live happier and longer lives. I wonder if PETA would get behind this idea. Brb emailing

  • dugs53

    I can’t believe that I would ever back PETA but I do this time but not for the reasons stated. I am an owner of two dogs and I also foster dogs and find them homes for a local rescue. Arlington has been the front runner on so many issues, one of them being creating dog parks and I would like to see them take this a step further. As a patron of the parks on a daily basis I’m appalled at the ignorance in some people who refuse to have their dogs spayed and neutered. There will always be skirmishes but some of the most vicious fights I’ve witnessed have been with unaltered males. We euthanize between 4-6 million animals a year only because suitable homes can’t be found for them, not because there’s anything wrong with them. If the CCA would put into a place a ban on unaltered dogs over the age of 6 months it would back up their local rescues and their own shelter. S/N also reduces so many risks to older dogs such as prostrate cancer. They already have a ban on females in heat attending the parks – why not take it a step further. I would like to also state that in my experience I don’t believe it’s just unaltered dogs that bite children, any dog is capable of that so I can’t buy into that argument.

  • Roxy

    Millions of dogs are put down in shelters each year due to overpopulation. Dogs that aren’t spayed or neutered are more likely to attack other dogs or get viciously attacked by other dogs.

    For the sake of your dog and his or her species, please spay/neuter your pets. I agree with PETA’s stance

  • Rory

    PETA? I get a little cult vibe from them


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