My dog Penny and I are regular visitors to the dog park and are so appreciative to have a safe, fenced park in which to play. The city's Parks and Recreation department and the Dog Park Committee do a fine job of maintaining the space.
When I heard of the proposed use of the dog park for RAGBRAI campers, my initial thought was to why our city would ask visitors to place a tent, sleeping bag or personal belongings within trees and yard that is regularly used as a public dog toilet. On another note, I was disappointed the park would be closed to the dogs for three days.
After my guest riders left Thursday morning, I was looking forward to taking Penny back to the park. When we arrived to the park at 6 p.m. I was saddened to walk in to see trash in the park. I grabbed a grocery bag and walked much of the park collecting left behind items. While much of it was the expected paper and plastic trash some items found were more concerning to me. I collected an open tuna can, cigarette lighter and alkaline batteries on the large dog side. The small dog side included an almost full pack of sugar free gum and many cigarette butts. Both alkaline batteries and xylitol, an ingredient in sugar-free gum, are dangerous and toxic to dogs. Certainly any of the items could have caused injury to a dog.
When a large event like this is hosted in a community we are to expect some mess. My issue is not with RAGBRAI, but with Parks and Recreation for reopening the park without removing all trash. I realize that this is not an easy task as some items were wedged into the wet ground or hidden within the grass. If we are fortunate enough to host RAGBRAI again, I would hope that the committee would not use the space meant for animals to play, pee and poop as a place for people to stay. This will ensure the safety of our dogs and display courtesy to our overnight guests.