We’re seeing some impact from the decline in maintenance and public safety resources under State management, but overall the Field and Beach still remain exceptionally safe and friendly, due to the constant presence of ordinary community members like you. However, we want you to be aware of disturbing new reports. There appears to be an effort underway to make phony claims about dog bites that never happened, and to harass people with dogs. So far the reports are isolated and fragmentary, but here’s what we’ve been told by people in the Field:
On Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2007, a man was riding a bicycle though the park, telling people they couldn’t be there with their dogs. When a dog came near the bike, he started yelling that he had been bitten. (Eight witnesses confirmed he was not.) He also took out a camera and began photographing people and dogs.
Later the same man was approached by a mild-mannered older woman whose dog he had accused. She wanted to find out what had actually happened. He became abusive, yelling expletives at her such as "f___ing bitch" and he then became so threatening that she called 9-1-1 for assistance. As she placed the call, the man fled the scene.
Because Lighthouse Field is now under State Parks control, the 9-1-1 center routed the call to a State Parks ranger on duty. The woman was told that they would not be responding, since the threat had passed and dog issues were "political" so the ranger didn't want to be involved. The woman was surprised as she was calling to report a threat. She later made a report to Santa Cruz police.
In another report, a man yelled at people that they had to leave, and then attempted to kick a passing dog, in what appeared to be an attempt to provoke an incident.
In another report we heard that someone was using his cell phone and calling 9-1-1 to say "dogs are biting people at Lighthouse Field." (Again, no such thing was observed.)
In another report from the previous week, a man was lurking under some trees with a camera photographing dogs and then shouting at people that the dogs shouldn’t be there, and also photographing the people.
It is not clear from the reports how many people are involved or if these events are being organized and coordinated. So far only one report is properly documented in writing. We are gathering information to ensure that officials are aware of what is happening. We will also have discussions with public safety authorities about how they follow-up on reports, both in case of threats and in case of deliberate false dog bite reports. Here is what YOU can do:
If you encounter any of these people, DO NOT help them create an incident. Move your dog away. Don't get into an altercation. Inform others you see in the Field about what’s happening. The more witnesses, the better.
If you perceive an imminent threat, call 9-1-1. If a threat or crime is in progress, the emergency call center will dispatch assistance.
Help us identify these people. Make notes about the day, time, what happened, and a description of the perpetrator(s). If you feel you can do so safely, try to get a photo. Follow at a safe distance and see if you can get a vehicle identification or license plate number.
If you feel a crime has been committed (and making a false 9-1-1 call IS a serious offense if you see it happening) make sure you report it. We suggest the Santa Cruz police non-emergency number for incidents not currently in progress: 831-471-1131.
Keep us informed. Send reports to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anti-dog agitators are entitled to say whatever they like. Don't get into an argument or dispute -- it seems they're looking to provoke trouble to create anti-dog publicity. You are entitled to completely ignore them. (Again, tell us what’s happening at email@example.com.)
When faced with people spewing fear, falsehood and hatred, there is only one right answer: Stand tall and stand together! They want to drive us out, and we will not be moved. Ask friends or family members with dogs to make a special effort to come to the Field or Beach during the traditional off-leash hours (sunrise to 10am, 4pm to sunset.) Make it clear that these actions will only cause more of us to be there.
Again, while disturbing, these reports are isolated. Thanks to the continued presence of people like you, the Field and Beach remain safe and friendly. You're rarely far from a friend!
Friends of Lighthouse Field
849 Almar Ave.
Suite C - PMB 414
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
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