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Bad Campaign for a Dog Park or Worst Campaign of All Time?

by Prince Of Petworth April 7, 2017 at 12:25 pm 80 Comments

dog park illegal

Ed. Note: Personally I’m pro dog park, as is probably not a surprise, and I understand frustration but SMDH at this campaign. We most recently spoke about the plans for a dog park in Takoma back in February.

except dogs

  • dcd

    Huh, so some Pepsi advertising executives live in Takoma Park, and have dogs. Who knew?

    • Elvis’s Mom

      Heh! I love dogs way more than people, but this is ridiculous. And tacky.

  • wdc

    I’m stunned. Like… speechless.
    This goes beyond “poor taste”.

  • Wd6

    I believe the proper term is “undogumented.”

    • CatieCat


    • TriniSoFlo

      No dog is illegal!!!

    • MsSunshine


    • Elvis’s Mom

      Bwah ha ha!

  • jumpingjack

    Wow, way to turn a popular project into something offensive.
    I agree with dcd, this is straight out of Pepsi’s playbook.

  • Joysbrother

    Dog park advocates are truly annoying people. I’ve felt this way for years. There, I said it.

    • Kevin

      I don’t even have a dog but this is an absurd comment. Not “some” or even “most” advocates?

      People who make disparaging comments about entire groups of people are truly annoying. I’ve felt this way for years. There, I said it.

      P.S. – Yes, the campaign messaging is offensive. Takes tone-deaf to a new level.

      • joysbrother

        Fair point. DC dog park advocates are truly annoying.

  • Anon

    Are you f*cking serious? Just how dumb are these people?

  • PJL

    Yikes. I’m always pro-dog park, but REALLY not the way to get people on their side…

  • bruno

    It’s not that people are against dogs. It’s that once dogs take over a park, the park’s useless for anything else. It’s already selfish to keep a dog in a city. Moreso to hog a park for their natural relief. The DC dog trend only started about 15 years ago. Used to be hardly any pet dogs around, and certainly no parks. I like many of the changes, but not this one. Parks should be available for broad use, and ownership of dogs in large cities should be discouraged. (How about a dog park tax/fee on dog owners?)

    • NH Ave Hiker

      seriously? It’s selfish to keep a dog in the city? Please elaborate.

      • wdc

        Sounds like Bruno has a personal axe to grind wrt to dogs, which are super adaptable. But I do agree with his point that labeling something a dog park ruins it for any other use. I also agree that registration fees should help defray the costs of maintaining dog parks. Maybe they already do!

        • bruno

          I adore dogs, as does my whole family, which is why I say it is cruel to keep them cooped up in apartments. It’s not a healthy enviro for them. My neighbor’s keep theirs in a cage when they go out of town and I hear him rattling the bars. I can’t blame him. Gross. Woof!

          • NH Ave Hiker

            Well for some dogs, I’m sure they do need more room to roam. But my dog can’t really run off leash anyways…and she gets plenty of exercise by daily walks, runs, and hikes on the weekends.

          • Reed_Walter

            It’s cute that you think everyone in the city lives in an apartment. The neighborhood of this dog park in question has VERY few apartments (mostly single family homes with yards). You shouldn’t be cruel to a dog, but living in the city isn’t automatically cruel.

          • Pixie

            Then your neighbors are the problem, not owning a dog in the city. You can be an irresponsible dog owner any where by keep a dog cooped up in an city apartment or country house.

          • bruno

            @Reed_Walter: If you have a home with a yard, why do you need a dog park? Or is this more sophistry, and dog parks really are, in the end, for people whose dogs are cooped up in apartments all day and have no other place to run?

          • jumpingjack

            bruno, A lot of dogs enjoy socializing with other dogs at the park – something they couldn’t do in their own backyard. And many houses have a yard but no good fence; owners may feel more comfortable letting their dog run in a fenced area.

          • Anon X

            Bruno, you “love” dogs but don’t really know anything about them. All the while you offend an entire group of people who aren’t doing anything wrong. Chill.

    • PJL

      Pretty sure the “dog trend” happened quite a lot longer than 15 years ago, both in DC and outside of it. I also ask why its selfish to keep a dog in the city if they get proper exercise and socialization. What have city dogs done to you that suggests ownership in the city should be discouraged?

    • ColHeist

      My pup was rescued from a rural area where he and his litter were kept in a box, on a porch, for several months. He was afraid of doors because he had never been through one to get outside. How is a life in the city, where he goes on daily runs and trips to the dog park and has free roam of our apartment during the day worse for him?

      • bruno

        Flapdoodle and sophistry! The dog you note was in an abusive situation unrelated to the overarching point that cities are bad enviros for dogs. Do you keep your pooch pent up in a pen when you party, as my neighbors do?

        • Grant Circle

          It sounds like your neighbors are bad for dogs, not the city.

        • While I agree that there are certain breeds that are not conducive to city living (I’m particularly thinking about working dogs like Australian shepherds that need a lot of exercise), you are making MANY assumptions about city dog owners in your comments and are possibly basing the majority of your opinion on the neighbors that you keep citing. Not all owners live in apartments, and not all dog owners are like your neighbors and keep their dog in a crate. Some breeds don’t need or even want much exercise throughout the day, and many people in this city do have yards (which can be quite big – many Petworth backyards are surprisingly huge). In fact, most people I know in the city that have dogs are homeowners – many waited until they were out of apartments to get a dog. Yes, there are some people that are irresponsible dog owners, but don’t put out a blanket statement that no one should own a dog in the city when you are looking at the situation in a narrow way.

        • Anon

          You keep projecting your sh1tty neighbors on others in the city. Don’t.

    • eggs

      My dog is really, really, REALLY happy to be in our one-bedroom apartment. She’s the laziest dog I’ve ever known and is so scared of the world (prior situation she was in before we adopted her) that a smaller living situation was recommended for her as a sort of “safety blanket”. She gets four walks a day but mostly just wants to lay around inside and do nothing/get pets. I don’t think there’s anything selfish about that, or about the vast majority of dog ownership I see around me here.
      I agree that certain breeds aren’t predisposed to apartment living. I agree that you shouldn’t get a dog just to leave it crated 12 hours a day every day. But I don’t think the majority of people with dogs are bad dog owners or selfish.

    • YJ

      “Selfish to keep a dog in the city”?? You’ve heard of a greyhound, right?

  • Emmaleigh504


  • ET

    Over the top. Out of line. Good way for them to turn people off.

  • Anony

    Dog lover here…this is ridiculous and embarrassing

  • K

    Who thought these were a good idea? Because these check several boxes under ‘not a good idea.’

  • crazydoglady#1

    omfg. no. just no.

  • CS

    Looks like we need to add another phrase to our lexicon between this and Pepsi. I’m trying to think of the equivalent term here to cultural appropriation. Serious political issues appropriation? Help me out here popvillagers

  • GinDC

    No. No no no no. Nooooooooooo.

  • AMDCer

    Ugh. Folks, as much as you love your “fur babies” dogs =/= people.

    • Reed_Walter

      I know. Dogs are much better than people.

      • Anon

        This is correct.

      • Elvis’s Mom

        Precisely. Much less violent and never condescending or judgmental.

  • Andie302

    This is just so tone deaf and offensive

    What’s crazy is I am sure this post will get back to the original creator and they’ll be all “what, I didn’t think it was that bad”

    I hate people today

  • F ST NE

    Uh, maybe we shouldn’t compare humans to dogs….just sayin’ is all…

  • MadMax

    This is just completely stupid. If I lived there I would vote against it because of this nonsense.

  • Anonymous

    Really tasteless. This takes the ridiculous “dogs are people too” mindset all the way to “dogs are an oppressed community of people”. I generally support dog parks but I’m not on board with this. Dogs don’t have a right to have free access to dog parks. I kind of hope they don’t get their dog park now (not that it matters, I don’t live in that neighborhood.)

  • L.

    I had to look a few times because I don’t even get what they’re trying to say here. Never mind that a lot of people find calling people “illegals” offensive, but are the backers of this campaign saying that DOGS should be treated better than immigrants? Dogs are not people. Dogs hump random objects, eat their own poo, bark mindlessly at nothing for hours sometimes, and run out in the street for no reason. Dogs deserve to be treated well, but they should not be held up for better treatment than actual human beings.

    • NH Ave Hiker

      I don’t think the creator of the campaign was really claiming that dogs are better than humans…

    • K

      Those “Glad you are our neighbor” signs are put up to show support to our Muslim, refuge, and immigrant neighbors. What he effectively doing is equating the campaign for a dog park to the real fear of deportation/ racism/ Islamophobia that many members of our community live with every day.

      • navyard

        yep. nailed it.

  • Cam

    I’m pro dog, but it’s hard to believe anyone thought the wording of this campaign was a good idea. Shockingly shameful and unlikely to help the cause.

  • CrazyDogLady

    I’m a dog person and generally very pro-dog park, and I’m horrified by this. So unnecessary, and it will only hurt their cause.

  • HaileUnlikely

    This is so gratuitously offensive that I can’t help but wonder if this was created by *opponents* of the dog park to smear its supporters. To be clear, I have no knowledge of any such effort, and as a declared cat person who lives in Takoma but not near the proposed site, I have no dog nor cat in this race. It’s just so unbelievable that I have difficulty imagining that this was actually created by dog park supporters as a bonafide attempt to increase support for their cause.

    • wdc

      The same thought crossed my mind

    • textdoc

      I hadn’t thought of that — interesting possibility.

    • Anon

      ah, the era when people don’t takw things at face value and hypothesize they are “false flag” without any evidence. Wonderful!

      • HaileUnlikely

        Hell, my alternative hypothesis appears to be about as close to reality as the assumptions by others, the guy posting this stuff wasn’t an opponent of the dog park and trying to smear its supporters, but also doesn’t speak on behalf of the dog park campaign any more than you speak on behalf of Taco Bell.

  • NH Ave Hiker

    Poor taste and probably a bad idea, yes. But I really don’t think it’s worth the effort to get that outraged over this

  • stacksp

    Whoever manages the Ward4Paws twitter handle essentially sabotaged his own initiative.

  • dcgator


  • 123456

    Listen, I suppose I have nothing against dog parks, but I sure wish dog owners understood that every green space isn’t theirs for their animals to tear up and do their business on. Further, I have serious questions on if it is the taxpayers’ duty to provide these parks. If you want a dog, that is your right, but with rights come responsibilities.

    • bruno

      I concur.

  • takomanorpark

    I think I know the guy who runs this Twitter. He is NOT the main representative of the dog park proponents, though he is a vocal advocate. I suspect (though don’t know) that this campaign was his idea and was posted without input from others on the front lines, who I know to be reasonable and thoughtful people. I agree that it is poorly thought-out at best and offensive at worst. Please don’t conflate the advocacy of a very reasonable, and very large, group of dog park supporters with the imprudent actions of one member.

  • textdoc

    Wow. I’m not sure this qualifies as the worst campaign of all time, but it’s definitely bad. Tone-deaf and offensive, as Andie put it earlier.

  • Hi Everyone, the dog park group and it’s board were not aware of these pictures and tweets nor do we condone/endorse them. If you want to review our official communications, I would invite you to check out our website and/or our application on DPR’s website. Our group has been following the District’s dog park application process for close to 3 years and we look forward to DPR eventually coming to a decision on our application.

    • OldinAM

      So will we be seing an apology from the person who unleashed this awful effort? What is your group and board doing to sanction him or her?

      • Nc3

        To echo Mike – the Ward4Paws twitter is run by one person. His tweets and memes are not cleared or sanctioned by anyone but himself. I’m. It sure what the dog park board can do to “sanction” someone other than saying what they did was in poor taste. It’s not an organization that does anything but advocate for a dog park.

  • NorthByNE

    I hope this all turns out to be a false-flag marketing campaign by the anti-dog park folks to make us all hate the pro-dog parkers.

    If so…highly successful.

    • Anonymous

      Seriously. This is some Richard Nixon-level ratf#cking right here.

  • Anon

    I like dog parks as much as the next gentrifier, but I will go with worst campaign of all time, for anything. This is ridiculously offensive.

  • Murph

    Yeah bad campaign, but I would argue a dog park is a good thing. I have found they help build community in various neighborhoods around DC.

    Sure some owners are dicks, but most are cool and appreciative that the city has opened up the parks around the city.

    As for those raising the prospect of a special dog tax, fee, etc – would it be fair then to package that with a tax break of sorts for folks who do not have kids and pay taxes that go toward athletic fields, jungle gyms and outdoor sprayers that kids love and that again, aside from attracting the occasional dopey parent, seem to benefit of the entire community?

  • CTcait

    I usually think people way overreact to this type of thing, however, this just goes to show how some pet owners really do have blinders on when it comes to their furry friends. This goes way beyond poor taste.

  • @Ward4Paws

    Hi Popville Readers:

    Thank you for taking the time and effort in response to the blog’s “Bad Campaign for a Dog Park or Worst Campaign of All Time” article. Popville didn’t reach out to me for comment, even though I’ve copied them on each of my Twitter posts (please check my @Ward4Paws feed). To be clear, my opinions are my own and do NOT represent those of the Northern Ward 4 Dog Park group, or any other party. I’m one guy with a dog. But I’m also a “Dog Activist” and social media is how I bring issues to public attention.

    First, please let me apologize. No, I don’t think that “dogs should be treated better than immigrants” as some commenters have mentioned and no, I’m not “equating the campaign for a dog park to “the real fear of deportation, racism, or Islamophobia that members of our community live with every day” as others questioned. If you were offended by the pictures that were posted, well, I’m sorry. They were not meant to be offensive or “in poor taste.” In fact, they were posted to do only one thing. Get people’s attention and reaction, which is exactly what they did. You are, after all, reading this. “Activism” provoked a response.

    So, why did I do this? Well, again, please check my Twitter feed (along with my Facebook feed of the same name). On each, you will see many other pictures and videos that aren’t “offensive.” All provide a message or story. But none of those were mentioned in the Popville blogpost. Only the two that you saw and may have commented on were. “Framing of emotion” to readers was provided by the title of the blog post about the pictures. No shade on Popville, but they did what they did for a reason, to draw attention to their story. Which is exactly what I did. In both cases, it worked.

    And that brings me to my main point. To be successful as an “activist,” you need to draw attention to your cause. The Tokama dog park effort isn’t something that’s “new.” It’s been around since before 2011. This is at least the third effort by various groups of people, all of whom have put incredible energy in to each project. And, each time previously, they failed. In the current effort, DC Parks and Recreation (DPR) denied the last application after they helped select and recommend the site (please see other Popville articles). It wasn’t until after one solid week of social media effort that they reached out to the dog park group to discuss what happened. Only then did the opinion of the group become relevant to DPR. But by then, it was already too late.

    Now, DPR has again extended the comment period for the current application. There may be any number of reasons for that, but it’s following the same routine they used last time. Previously, I was a “good dog” and said nothing. This time, I’m going to “bark” and keep “barking” (without more “controversial” memes). People may call me “imprudent” or even “irresponsible” (which I respect and appreciate), but in local District politics, it’s 100% about relevance and leverage. I’ve spoke face-to-face with the Director of DPR (who was very nice), several of our elected officials (also nice), and with many people in the community from both sides of the issue (some who were not so nice). I’ve attended meetings with much talk, but little result. Most disappointingly, I’ve watched the dog park group try and build support with elected officials by following all the “rules,” only to have an “end run” pulled on them by a Ward 4 back door effort (I’m sure I don’t need to explain that). They didn’t deserve that. So, admittedly, I “broke the rules.” But I did so because a bright light needs to be shined on the current process. In my opinion, our elected officials need to become more responsive to the issue and lead a compromise effort with a reasonable and transparent solution. Sure, it’s not easy and without risk. But that’s why you were elected a Council member or Mayor. And now, respectfully, you’re in the middle of it. Please, take leadership and ownership of the effort.

    No advocacy effort is good without quotable facts, so here they are. Takoma is rapidly expanding with the development of new apartments and condos each year. Redevelopment of Walter Reed will add to this. None have yards for dogs to run or play in. In the United States, there are approximately 78 million dogs (HSUS). 44% of households have at least one dog, outnumbering households with children (43 compared to 38 million, according to HSUS). Nine out of ten dog owners view them as “family members” (also HSUS). Pet problems are the most common reason that owners give up their pets, accounting for 47% of re-homed dogs. Such problems include problematic or aggressive behaviors, grew larger than expected, or health problems the owner couldn’t handle (ASPCA). 3.3 million dogs were turned over to shelters. 670,000 dogs (or 1 in 5) were euthanized (also ASPCA). In cities like the District, especially in apartments and condos, many dogs are “crate kept” during the day, creating frustration and leading to behavior issues. Dog parks are often the only outlet that apartment and condo residents have for off-leash activity that is best for dogs. There is only one dog park in Ward 4 and it’s at the southern end. Northern Ward 4 needs a dog park. Nothing fancy, just a simple area where dogs can run and play while their humans watch.

    Finally, please keep one last thing in mind. No matter how “outraged” or “angry” you may feel about the “controversial” memes, one thing is clear. The park sign was put up by DPR. Other parks in the District are also restrictive to dogs with reports of tickets being written by officers. Without dog parks, DPR is not offering alternatives. I get that you might be mad with me, and I’m good with that. My Twitter feed is public. Please post your comments and I’ll reply to them nicely. I use a social media management app for scheduling daytime posts, so I can’t get back to you until the evenings. For me, it’s about the dogs. Someone needs to give them a voice in the process.


    • Do the dog park a favor and delete your account.

      • Anon


    • textdoc

      TLDR: -fingers in ears- “Lalalala, not listening.”

    • Anon X

      You and a guy in brookland who loves to rant about
      McMillan would get along great.

      But, no where in your incoherent ramblings did I see even the slightest hint of a good point or intelligent idea. You are “sorry if you offended” anyone but you aren’t sorry that you posted divisive, foolish, and downright bizarre signs. Your remorse is insincere and you hide behind “activism”. You need to think long and hard about what you are doing.

    • RL

      “If you were offended by the pictures that were posted, well, I’m sorry. They were not meant to be offensive or ‘in poor taste.'”
      And that’s where I stopped reading. Because the only thing this fool should have said is “I have no idea what I was thinking when I failed to realize how empirically offensive these posts were. I have deleted them and beg forgiveness from the entire community for my idiocy.”

  • Not to be confused with the brand-new Takoma Park, MD dog park that opened the first weekend of April: takomaparkmd.gov/initiatives/project-directory/dog-park/

    It’s 3/4 of a mile from the DC border. Why advocate so negatively for a Takoma-DC-based dog park when you can very easily get to one near Ward 4?


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