So much so, that users are beginning to clamor for something more to be done about it.
“It basically looks like a rodeo ground,” said Mike Ryan, former vice chair of Peninsula Community Planning Board, who is a frequent user, along with dog Maggie, of Dusty Rhodes' small-dog enclosure. “Many of us who use the park are fed up with the lack of watering. The city says the watering was cut back due to the drought. Funny thing is, San Diego is always in a drought,” he said.
Ryan noted, during water rationing caused by the ongoing drought, that “athletic fields got plenty of water but not the dog parks. That means we take our dirty dogs home and have to wash them wasting more water, not to mention all the dust that gets stirred up and inhaled by our pets, but also by us. I will spare you the details on what is in the dust."
The bottom line, in Ryan's view, is that, “We already have a sandy dog beach. We need a grassy dog park.”
Ryan added he's learned from city parks that “crews have started watering the dog parks again on a limited basis.” But, when it comes to completely denuded pooch parks like Dusty Rhodes, “the picture doesn’t lie,” he noted.
“Off-leash dog areas were designated as places the City would no longer water during the drought,” said Tim Graham of the city's communications department. “Once that happened, much of the existing grass died and hasn’t come back."
Graham said water restrictions went into effect on June 1, 2014. "Regulations were eased on July 15, 2015,” he added.
Weighing-in on Dusty Rhodes, Denise (Denny) Knox of Ocean Beach MainStreet Association said, “Dusty Rhodes Dog Park isn’t under our umbrella. It is taken care of by Park & Rec. Not sure why they wouldn’t water it. I get the unhappiness about it.
“If they are going to have a dog park, it needs to be kept up by the City, or by a citizen’s group that wants to retain the park for dogs. The OB Town Council might be the logical group to go to for support to get improvements made to the maintenance of the dog park,” she said.
Ryan argued there may be health issues as well with a dry Dusty Rhodes.
“Several months ago my vet, who visits Mexico often, told me that recently there is a Parvo outbreak there,” he said, noting, “Diseases can be spread through direct contact between dogs, shared bowls and equipment, contaminated water, stool, insects and other methods."
According to Wikipedia, Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious and potentially lethal virus that can affect all dogs, but unvaccinated dogs and puppies younger than four months are most at-risk. The virus affects dogs' gastrointestinal tracts and is spread by direct dog-to-dog contact and contact with contaminated feces, environments or people.
Melanie Wilson, policy advisor and community rep for County Supervisor Ron Roberts, on Ryan's behalf, inquired with the county veterinarian about the potential danger of Parvo in regional dog parks.
“The veterinarian indicated that dogs defecating and urinating on soil in a dog park are not health hazards unless someone ingests the excrement,” Wilson said. “Further, the sprinklers not being active may cause the park to be unsightly and odiferous; however, the feces and organisms within the feces become dehydrated and inactive. Urine from a healthy dog is sterile and thus does not pose a risk in an open environment.”
Wilson added she also heard back from City of San Diego Parks and Rec Department that Dusty Rhodes "is being watered three times a week, along with the rest of the city parks, since the end of September.”