South County dog owners, prepare: The Elm Street Dog Park in Arroyo Grande could soon have some new rules affecting playtime with Rover.
The Elm Street Dog Park Association are asking the Arroyo Grande City Council to add two new rules to the off-leash dog park, in response to issues the park has had in the 14 months since the group took over management.
The association is asking the council to require that all male dogs over a year old be neutered before being allowed at the park. It also wants to prohibit the use of chemicals like pepper spray to break up dog fights.
The City Council will consider the rules at its meeting Tuesday.
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According to a city staff report, several national organizations, such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), recommend neutering male dogs before allowing them at a dog park because it can reduce aggressiveness and prevent issues when female dogs are in heat.
Six dog parks in San Luis Obispo County require male dogs over six months of age to be fixed: Heilmann, Vineyard, El Chorro, Nipomo, Norma Rose and Sherwood dog parks.
Most recently, an unneutered pit bull attacked an unneutered cattle dog on Jan. 29, according to the staff report.
Six dog parks in San Luis Obispo County have similar rules regarding unneutered dogs, requiring male dogs older than 6 months to be fixed. These include Heilmann Dog Park in Atascadero, Vineyard Dog Park in Templeton, El Chorro Dog Park in San Luis Obispo, Nipomo Dog Park in Nipomo, Norma Rose Dog Park in Cayucos and Sherwood Dog Park in Paso Robles.
The dog park is also looking to add a rule that would require using only water to break up dog fights, rather than canister sprays, citronella sprays, mace or pepper sprays.
According to the group, these chemical sprays can cause a number of health problems when used on dogs, including eye and lung damage, as well as aggravating the dog in question so that it becomes more aggressive.
Sprays have been used on animals at the dog park three times in the 14 months the group has managed the park, according to the staff report. All three times they were “misused” — whether by spraying from too far away or without provocation or using an unidentified type of spray on a dog without owner consent.