Guest Column: Arbor Dog Park: Unfair to small dogs?

Because there is no separation for small and large dogs at the Seal Beach Arbor Dog Park (4665 Lampson Ave.), many Seal Beach dog owners, especially owners of smaller dogs, say they won’t take their dogs to our only dog park. Owners of small dogs state they will often drive to Huntington Beach, Long Beach or even further to take their pets to other dog parks that offer a separate play area for large and small dogs.

The Seal Beach Arbor Dog Park is a two and a half acre fenced park with several large shade trees with both grass and ground cover for dogs to enjoy.  Who would have thought such an idyllic setting can quickly become a very terrifying and scary experience for a small dog that innocently visits the park?  The separation issue was discussed a few years ago, but as yet, and even though the city has the fencing available, the park has never been separated.

Most dog park operators realize the danger of mixing large dogs with smaller dogs and how some of the interactions do not always turn out well.  Any time a dog is too physical with another dog it can result in an expensive emergency visit to the veterinarian or animal hospital.  Even a small dog, when it feels threatened, can afflict serious injury to a large dog and let us not forget that pet owners can be injured trying to rescue their dogs from this type of conflicts.   Separation is a very common solution that is utilized by most dog parks; because it allows the dog owner to decide the appropriate play area for their pets.  Separate play areas won’t eliminate all negative dog-to-dog interactions, but at least the smaller dogs will be better able to defend themselves.

After commenting about this issue in our neighborhood blog, Next Door, I received dozens of e-mail responses from dog owners with the very same concern. Most dog owners I spoke with agree the park needs to change. The present acreage is large enough to accommodate different size dogs and the park can be a much friendlier place with two dog play areas.

The Arbor Dog Park could be separated and made safer with only a very small expenditure of city funds.  With input from Councilmember Schelly Sustarsic, City Manager Jill Ingram has suggested this idea be brought to the next Parks and Recreation Commission meeting that is scheduled for June 21st, 2017.  The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in the Seal Beach City Council Chamber (211 Eighth St.).  I encourage all city residents (dog owners or not) to support this change and please let us quickly make this important inexpensive improvement to our dog park.  Arbor Dog Park needs to be a safer place for all of our dogs, large, small or in between. This is too important to ignore, we must take every step we can to help reduce the chance of any injury to our family pets.

Thom L. Thomas lives in Seal Beach. You can reach him at