Rumor control: Dogs are NOT allowed in Evelyn’s Park

By Charlotte Aguilar
A rumor spreading among Bellaire dog owners that there is a “trial period” for allowing dogs in the new Evelyn’s Park is simply untrue, say city officials. Dog walkers in violation could be issued a citation and fined up to $500 and court costs, they say.
City Manager Paul Hofmann, Police Chief Byron Holloway, City Councilwoman Trisha Pollard and Parks & Recreation & Facilities Director Karl Miller all confirm that the ordinance prohibiting dogs in all parks except the Officer Lucy Dog Park in southeast Bellaire is in effect — no exceptions.
The Evelyn’s Park Conservancy managing the park is “working on the signs” citing the ordinance, Miller reports.
Pollard described the rumor as “rampant” and said it is “OK to let people know they can always call the PD (police) Dispatch number to request an officer to come write a (ticket) to someone who is violating the ordinance.”
The ordinance prohibiting dogs in Bellaire parks dates from 2004 and is outlined in Sec. 6-43 of the city code: “Except in Lafayette Park where posted and so designated, no dog or cat is permitted at any time within any city parks or playgrounds, whether under control of the owner or not.”
The next section, created by ordinance two decades ago, mandates pickup, removal and disposal of dog droppings “left on public property, rights-of-way, or on the property of another person without that person’s consent.”
Although Hofmann says that no citations have been issued in the past three years, the police chief takes issue with those who contend the ordinance is not being enforced. In reality, says Holloway, his officers’ experience is that when violators are warned, they comply — “and that is enforcement. We are a community. We’re not here to make people’s lives miserable.”
The issue of dogs in parks has taken on new life with the long-awaited debut April 22 of Evelyn’s Park and the daily appearance of dog owners with their pets beginning with the jam-packed opening day. Old arguments about health issues — even when owners pick up after their pets — and about the compatibility dogs with children and those whose mobility might be compromised have been revived.
In addition to the dedicated Officer Lucy dog park, Harris County’s Danny Jackson Family Dog Park is easily accessible to pet owners, located just north of the city on Westpark Drive west of Newcastle Drive.
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A visitor to the new Evelyn’s Park walks two dogs on the grounds of the yet-to-be-opened cafe, in violation of city ordinance. The scene is a common one, park goers say. (Photo by Charlotte Aguilar)