As the Lodi Police Department considers whether to alter the city’s current dog ordinance, some residents have decided to find refuge from Lodi’s dog parks.
A canal, running near Lower Sacramento Street, is a daily destination for many dog owners seeking a friendly and responsible atmosphere — something that doesn’t always exist at Lodi’s dog parks, some owners say.
“Most of the dogs out here are good dogs, and everybody who comes out here is nice,” said Robert Orozco, who regularly walks his two dogs on a dirt path along the canal.
Orozco used to bring his Australian terrier, Bosco, and yellow Labrador, Scooter, to Lodi’s dog parks, including Vinewood Park on the 1800 block of West Tokay Street. But during each trip he dealt with unsupervised, sometimes aggressive dogs and even confrontational owners, he said.
“You get people who have bad attitudes,” Orozco said. “They bring their dogs, let them off the leash then get (angry) because their dog doesn’t get along with yours.”
Matt Hayward is another Lodi resident who either brings his golden retriever, Zarri, to the canal or, on occasion, Lodi Lake — but not to the dog parks anymore.
He said that a few bad experiences have been enough to keep him away.
“I don’t take (Zarri) to the dog parks simply because there are a lot of owners who don’t keep an eye on their dogs — either dogs acting aggressively, or not picking up after them,” Hayward said.
The decision to talk about a new ordinance stemmed from an April incident in which a large pit bull mix broke free from his leash and mauled to death a small dachshund at Lodi Lake.
Six months later, the Lodi Police Department is researching dog ordinances in other cities and deciding whether to revise Lodi’s current rules.
Many years ago, the city decided to ban dogs from the Lodi Lake nature area. Hayward hopes that any new ordinance doesn’t include restricting dogs from more places around town.
“We definitely need places for dogs and places for them to get off their leash,” Hayward said. “I don’t want to see them scale it back anymore, but it’s the responsibility of dog owners to take care of business.”
Erik Shanklin, who regularly walks his two pit bulls through Lodi Lake, is concerned that a new dog ordinance will specifically target pit bulls.
“I have great dogs,” he said. “Unfortunately, the history behind (pit bulls) is horrible.”
On Wednesday, Riverside County adopted a new dog ordinance requiring all pit bulls and pit bull mixes to be sterilized. Violators will face a citation or misdemeanor charge.
Shanklin has long been an ostracized pit bull owner. While looking for a home, he was denied by 38 rental companies because of his pit bulls, he said.
While at the city’s dog parks, some owners expressed concern for the safety of their dogs based on pit bulls’ reputation, Shanklin said.
So he no longer takes his pit bulls to the city’s dog parks.
“It’s up to the owners to be responsible,” Shanklin said.
Contact reporter Kristopher Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.