News that a bigger dog attacked and killed a smaller dog while both animals were supposed to be enjoying a little socialization at Forest Park’s dog park is just heartbreaking. For many of us, family pets occupy a soft spot in our hearts. We can’t imagine how terrifying it might be to see one pet maul another.

This most unfortunate incident occurred late last month at the municipal dog park on Circle Avenue. According to police, it seems the larger animal acted so quickly and without provocation that there was little anyone could do to prevent the attack from happening. Fortunately, no people were injured.

Dog parks, generally, are a great place for people and their pets to while away a weekend afternoon in the company of like-minded neighbors. But we can’t always predict whose pets will mix well with our own and vice versa. There is always a risk in bringing a bunch of animals into a small enclosure and no amount of policing will change that.

What dog park users and public officials can do, though, is agree to a set of rules and then follow those rules. In Forest Park, pet owners from all over are welcome to use the park, but they need to register with the village. Having this license doesn’t make a pet any more or less sociable, but it does help with tracking which animals play nice and which animals do not.

Neither of the pets involved in the recent attack were registered with the village, meaning their owners could be fined $15 for trespassing in the park. A stiffer fine may be a greater incentive to boost registrations, but the responsibility of the park and the pets rests with the users.

Preventing blight

Grabbing the occasional property to try and prevent blight from overtaking a neighborhood isn’t a bad idea, but Forest Park is starting to see this plan backfire on one street corner.

It was December 2006 – almost two years ago – when the council voted to purchase a dilapidated property at 1000 Beloit Ave. It had long been considered a nuisance by public officials and residents alike. At the time, the mayor and his colleagues championed the buy with promises of improving the location to serve the public’s interests. A police sub-station was the most talked about option.

Well, the building is literally crumbling now and presents a danger to passersby. The good news is we’re told this can be fixed with a relatively minor repair. The bad news is the building continues to go unused, and there still is no plan for what to do with it.

No doubt, local government has found success in real estate, and this property could be added to that list. But while village hall is crafting a plan, taxpayers should expect that municipal properties are held to the same maintenance standards as private properties.