News

Property owner defends Bol Park donkeys with BB rifle

James Witt chased off dog after hearing Perry and Niner scream

The owner of the donkey pasture where Palo Alto's two beloved donkeys reside defended the animals on Monday night by shooing off a harassing dog while carrying a BB rifle, according to Palo Alto police.

Property owner James Witt's quick response to protect the animals prevented an attack, but concerned passersby called police to report a man carrying a gun. That set off a tense situation that involved closing off streets in the Barron Park neighborhood as police searched for an alleged gunman.

Witt heard the two donkeys, Perry and Niner, screaming around 8 p.m. on Monday night, he said.

"I was minding my own business at home when I heard both donkeys screaming for their lives like I'd never heard before, and a crazed dog sound and some humans also screaming," he said. "When I got over there the dog and owner were in the pasture. The dog was trying to attack both donkeys and the owner was helpless, panicked and without a leash.

"The dog's face was covered in black dirt and (he) seemed completely out of control."

Witt said he told the dog's owner, a man, to get a leash so he could get his dog away from the donkeys. People stood by for several minutes and watched the dog, but they did not help, Witt added.

Instead two passersby called police, which resulted in a shutdown of Laguna Avenue at Los Robles and Barron avenues while they investigated the incident.

Witt had already gone inside and the dog and its owner had left, police detective James Reifschneider said. Police discovered that Witt had not left his property, Reifschneider added.

Inge Harding-Barlow, one of the donkeys' handlers, said she went to investigate last night when police had blocked the intersection of Laguna and Barron avenues. A woman was in a car talking to an officer, she said. Shortly later, a second woman and a dog talked to the officer, Harding-Barlow said.

"All I heard was a 9-month-old dog had been chasing the donkeys. A man with a gun/rifle had threatened to shoot the dog. I broke in and asked were the donkeys OK. The policeman who appeared to have his rifle cocked, said 'Donkeys OK,'" she said. "I said I was a handler, and it was indicated that I should depart, which I did. As I walked back to my house, which is only one house away, I heard a sharp click as if he was taking his rifle off the cocked position."

Doug Moran, another donkey handler, said it was impossible for him to check on the donkeys after the police left, saying it was "too dark, they were too frightened and I didn't want to get mistaken for a prowler," he said.

Reifschneider said Witt did not break any laws. He did not point the gun, did not threaten anyone and did not fire the weapon. He was within his rights to carry a gun on his own property, he said.

Officers did tell Witt that he needs to be careful and to be aware if he is carrying a weapon on his property where it is visible to the public. If passersby call police, officers would be obliged to investigate to make sure the area is safe, Reifschneider said.

Harding-Barlow said she hopes a sign previously attached to the gate with the donkey handlers' contact information would be replaced, and that in the future police and Witt would contact her or Moran, who live closest to the donkey sanctuary, when any animal or person is bothering the donkeys.

Witt said that although some people might have been alarmed, he thinks it's hard for people to imagine the terrifying sounds the donkeys were making. The harassment of the donkeys is not the first incident, he added.

Harding-Barlow said that Perry, the smaller of the two donkeys, who is the model for the donkey in the "Shrek" movies, has been attacked three times and was seriously hurt during at least one incident.

Perry suffered injuries, including a 2-inch square patch of skin torn from his face and cuts on his front legs in a September 2012 attack. The wounds took about 10 days to heal. During a November 2012 attack, the same large dog again headed for the donkeys. Perry suffered more wounds to his face, which were more serious than in the previous instance, Moran said at the time.

Reifschneider said there was no indication that the dog was the same one that had previously attacked the donkeys. The previous attacks on the donkeys aside, he did not think the problem was ongoing.

But in warm summer weather more people tend to let their dogs off leash, which is a violation of law, he said. The problem is not worse in the Bol Park area than in other parts of the city, he added.

How to prevent further incursions and attacks on the donkeys remains up in the air. Moran said there hasn't been time to discuss any further protections to keep dogs out of the donkey pasture.

But Witt isn't inclined to add additional impediments, he said.

"I refuse to make the pasture like a cage just to keep dogs out. Humans need to be responsible and obey the leash laws. As you know, Perry was almost killed by a dog previously and was terrified yesterday," he said. "The positive thing is that many good people are doing their part to keep the donkeys in Barron Park, primarily for the children."

Comments

97 people like this
Posted by shameful
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 18, 2015 at 7:38 pm

Shameful selfish dog owners refuse to obey the leash laws. These laws are for everyone's protection. Thankfully, the donkeys were safe inside their fence and no children were attacked by these aggressive dogs.


7 people like this
Posted by HUTCH 7.62
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 18, 2015 at 7:41 pm

[Post removed.]


60 people like this
Posted by Ben
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 18, 2015 at 7:55 pm

A potentially dangerous off leash dog and its ******* owner flee the scene so Witt was left to answer for it. Wonderful. Fortunately the donkeys were not hurt. Why no mention of Palo Alto leash laws?

Web Link

"Any dog or puppy must be controlled on a leash by an able-bodied person, at all times, even when under supervision, whenever the dog is on public property. This includes all parks, sidewalks, streets, school grounds and the Baylands marsh areas or while on an unenclosed lot. The leash law is strictly enforced, but certain dog exercise areas have been created as playgrounds for exercising your dog off leash."


5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2015 at 8:13 pm

[Post removed.]


28 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 18, 2015 at 8:17 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

I subsequently was able to check the donkeys and found no indication of any injury, wound, whatever.


33 people like this
Posted by Be Sensible
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 18, 2015 at 8:22 pm

Resident: The property owner was within his rights to have a gun on his property - he did not point it at anyone and did not fire it. You might have a problem with guns in general but there is a law (the same law that you are talking about). According to that very same law the owner was well within his rights to do what he did.
You on the other hand should be ashamed to be bringing in your personal opinion of gun rights to an issue where the only person who really needs to be prosecuted is the disgraceful owner of the dog that attacked the donkeys.


61 people like this
Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 18, 2015 at 9:15 pm

Thank you Mr. Witt, for handling this situation! It is just amazing how many times people come to the enclosure with unleashed dogs and I have to chase them out. These donkeys are very elderly and very very tame. They are very fearful of dogs due to past experiences and it is not good for them to get so frightened and stressed.


38 people like this
Posted by Carlos
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 18, 2015 at 9:52 pm

Are our local authorities waiting for some kind of tragedy before enforcing the leash laws?

Having lived in dog friendly places outside this area makes me wonder why some dog owners in town can't be more responsible and considerate to others. Is it the 'new money' and entitlement mentality that these rules don't apply to them, and they can just hire an expensive lawyer to get them out of trouble?


25 people like this
Posted by Mike Alexander
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Aug 18, 2015 at 9:55 pm

Luckily Mr. Witt was there to intervene, and it ended well. That might not always be the case, though. Given the large number of dogs that travel the path past the pasture, and the understandable fear that the donkeys have of dogs, it seems prudent and humane to take action that will keep stray dogs, and coyotes, out.


32 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 18, 2015 at 10:27 pm

So did Witt actually scare the dog off with the BB gun, or he had it in case, and shooed them off without it? Misleading headline, seems to me.

I've known those loving donkeys for years and I know how terrified they were. They need to live their remaining lives in peace, with little stress, lots of love, good food and competent vet care. It's infuriating that dog owners are such dangerous morons. Don't they know where the donkeys are, or they just don't care that their dogs are unleashed or they're too stupid to think their dogs won't react?


14 people like this
Posted by Tom
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 18, 2015 at 10:29 pm

Why were guns involved at all? Do people not know or are they ignoring that the donkey pen is by the bike path and public park? You know - where people go even in the early evening. If he took guns he was willing to use them. Where would the bullets go - and how far? We could be mourning the loss of a person instead of a donkey. And for residents to have to be confronted by a strangers with guns is unacceptable. It is all well and good that the animals were not hurt, but the gunman's response was not smart - it was dangerous. I read another article that mentioned this guy had a pistol too. He had other options - call 911, make noise to try to scare the dog away, etc. Obviously holding onto a gun does noting to scare off a dog, but will scare people.
And yes - we need a zero tolerance agreement - no dog ever off a leash on the bike path. To do so is a selfish indulgence be dog owners that can get a donkey killed. Will everyone agree that if they ever see a dog off leash on the path that they will stop the owner, explain the situation and ask that the animal be leashed?


60 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 18, 2015 at 11:01 pm

@ Tom

Tom, it's a BB Gun! Sorry, but I am more afraid of an uncontrollable, off leash dog than I am of a BB gun. And besides, it's Witts' property!


40 people like this
Posted by Yup
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2015 at 11:42 pm

>> "Obviously holding onto a gun does noting to scare off a dog, but will scare people. "

Good, hopefully the owner of the dog got really, really scared.

Bravo to Mr. Witt for protecting the donkeys. He had every right to shoot the dog, if he had to, that was trespassing on his property and attacking the donkeys. And I'm a dog person!


59 people like this
Posted by To Protect Perry
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 19, 2015 at 5:05 am

It is absolutely routine to find off leash dogs in an around this area (as it is in every other park in Palo Alto). On any given morning (I jog through here routinely, running the trail by the Park, past the donkeys, and then to the Gunn HS area) you will find multiple (and different each day) off leash dogs on the grass area of the park within close distance to the donkeys. These dog owners often transition over to the open space near the high school and routinely take their off leash dogs past the donkeys. My requests to these people to put the dogs on leash are routinely ignored. It would seem the only solution would be: 1) concerned citizens should routinely call the police regarding off leash dogs in this area, and 2) a well publicized enforcement campaign by the Palo Alto police department.


6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2015 at 7:19 am

Since you removed my post, perhaps you should change your headline to something less inflammatory.

A headline that suggests a gun has been used to defend anything is very much an indication that shots had been fired. If this is not the case, then the headline is incorrect.


7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2015 at 8:00 am

To add to your inflammatory headline, I reread the start of the article when you used the word shooing. I read this in conjunction with the headline as shooting. This is obviously attempting to confuse the reader. I was picturing a vigilante style protection of the donkeys.

Very poor show, PA Weekly reporter.


38 people like this
Posted by Dog & Donkey Lover
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 19, 2015 at 8:14 am

I'm so glad the donkeys weren't injured, good job Mr. Witt in protecting them. I'm very much a dog person but I have a real problem with people off-leashing their dogs. First, it's illegal of course. Second, it's dangerous. That's because I would say 99.99% (repeating) of people who off-leash their dogs around here do not have an effective recall. I know this because they can't recall their dogs when I am walking mine on leash, or I'm in my yard and their dog enters my property. The off-leashers make it difficult to walk at parks and schools because a dog on leash is in a awkward way and potentially bad spot when confronted with an off-leash dog. Add to that traffic, squirrels, other dogs, and in this case donkeys, it's clear people are deluding themselves about how much control they have over their dogs. Yes, we need more dog runs and so on. But people, don't kid yourselves about your control over your dog, however friendly it may be; people don't know your dog and it can scare little kids etc. Everyone else, just loudly demand that the owner call his dog and see what happens. Usually he can't do it.


8 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2015 at 8:39 am

[Post removed.]


31 people like this
Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 19, 2015 at 9:21 am

Obviously, when he heard the donkeys screaming like that one thing a thinking man might worry about is a mountain lion. In that case, a BB gun for aversive measures is entirely reasonable. Many men who are armchair quarterbacking this situation would probably just stay in their houses and think "Not my donkeys, and I'm not going out there, it's probably a mountain lion." But he reacted quickly and by being brave he may have saved the donkeys from another injury. People get your dogs on leash!


7 people like this
Posted by Neal
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 19, 2015 at 9:28 am

A BB gun is not a rifle. It's a smooth bore.


19 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 19, 2015 at 9:51 am

Marie is a registered user.

Carlos. Sadly, the problem with unleashed dogs is not a new one. I've lived in Palo Alto over 25 years and it has always been a problem. Although the ordinance about stray dogs is rigorously enforced, leash laws are rarely enforced. Owners of off-leash dogs are adamant that they have the right to let their dogs run free and pee all over the grass where our children play. Only enforcement of the leash laws will change that mentality. Good luck with that.

Some years ago there was a minor kerfluffle on Town Square, when a councilperson was outed as one of the regulars with an off-leash dog at a local schoolyard. It didn't change a thing.

I am just happy the donkeys have nearby neighbors who will protect the donkeys from off-leash dogs.

Until the city council/city manager/police chief instructs the police to enforce the leash law, it will not happen.


20 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 19, 2015 at 9:58 am

Was the dog owner ticked or fined??


15 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2015 at 10:04 am

Can the Weekly dig up the statistics on tickets for off leash dogs? Has Palo Alto police ever written one? Even after a dog bite or attack?


9 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 19, 2015 at 10:09 am

Unleashed dogs - some guy on a bike was flying down Louis Road after twilight - the dog was racing ahead of him. The dog had no reflective collar. I saw the guy on the bike but the dog cleared through the intersection, made a right hand turn to head for home, the guy losing this race. I never saw the dog until he cleared the intersection.
I would hate to hit a dog or any animal lose on the street or bike path.
I was so mad at that biker = what a total jerk.

What is wrong with people.


10 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2015 at 10:16 am

I'm sorry, I flagged Hmms post instead agreeing with Hmmm. I also agree with Tom who basically said the same thing as me but Tom's post remains and others have liked it.

The headline and first line make it sound as if the gun had been used on the dog. Others have read the same as me.

I would like the headline changed and the word shooing (which looks like shooting after a headline that mentions a gun) altered.

This article should be about dogs harassing the donkeys and that should be the headline. The gun incident should be played down if the owner was not cited as it make the article so much more inflammatory.


24 people like this
Posted by Many Thanx
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2015 at 10:34 am

Thank you, Mr Witt, for manning up to the situation!

Too many would not have.


8 people like this
Posted by RV
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 19, 2015 at 10:59 am

We were walking in the Bol Park at the time and were caught during the police cordon. The situation could have been very bad because police were doing their duty but it was evening and a wrong call could have caused an innocent life.

The gate to the Donkeys enclosure has large gaps and I would urge Mr. Witt to just block the gaps. There is a public path next to the pasture and used by dog walkers all the time. There are leash laws but the sensible thing would be to just block the gaps in the gate. This is the third attack on the donkeys and it is very irresponsible to not block the gaps in the gate to prevent any more dogs from entering.


7 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 19, 2015 at 11:05 am

Good comment on the fencing for the donkey yard. Sounds like they need to rebuild the enclosure - or wrap the outside with metal mesh so no other animals can enter the enclosure. That should be a mandatory fix if we are having the type problems that occur here.


6 people like this
Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 19, 2015 at 11:28 am

Hear, hear Mr. Whitt! "Humans need to be responsible and obey the leash laws."


35 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 19, 2015 at 11:29 am

I walk in Bol Park daily and, first, want to say how grateful I am that the vast majority of dogs are leashed, so thank you to most dog walkers in the park. As usual, it just takes a few scofflaws to ruin it for everyone else. Ive gotten into arguments with off leash dog walkers who claim they didn't see the signs (and therefore they don't exist.?), but this won't stop me from saying something every time. This type of arrogant person needs to be confronted and informed that they are, in fact, not above the law, no matter how wonderful their particular dog may be. In addition to timid animals, many children are terrified of dogs, including my own son. It was amazing how often people would practically force their dog on my fearful child, saying, "oh, he's very friendly,". Dog lovers need to accept that many people, just like the donkeys, are nervous around off leash dogs and their presence is psychologically disturbing.


29 people like this
Posted by Yup
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2015 at 11:35 am

How about all the dog owners that let their dogs off leash at Bol Park pay to reinforce the enclosure and patch the gaps in the fence. Why should Mr. Witt have to incur more cost to accommodate people who are breaking the law while the police do nothing to enforce that law?


9 people like this
Posted by Maria
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 19, 2015 at 11:40 am

What's wrong with placing chicken wire around the bottom of the fences to keep dogs out?


10 people like this
Posted by You Missed it!
a resident of another community
on Aug 19, 2015 at 11:42 am

"Shortly later, a second woman and a dog talked to the officer, Harding-Barlow said.

Now that's amazing! A talking dog! Will there be a follow-up interview with that critter?


16 people like this
Posted by PolicySage
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 19, 2015 at 11:42 am

I am seriously concerned about the lack of enforcement of the leash laws, not only for our wonderful donkeys, but also and even more important the elderly folks who like to enjoy Bol Park with cane or walker, and who would be very likely to be seriously injured, broken hip perhaps, if being jumped on and knocked over by even a "friendly" dog. Such elders have a very high death rate after a traumatic fall and hip fracture. Can't something be done to enforce the leash law?


3 people like this
Posted by walker
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 19, 2015 at 11:43 am

Now how can we get those [portion removed] bike riders to aim their super powerful LED head and handlebar lamps at the ground they are riding on instead of directly into the eyes of innocent walkers.


9 people like this
Posted by Appalled
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 19, 2015 at 12:02 pm

The prevailing opinion on this thread -- that a family pet deserves summary execution for harassing (but not harming) a couple of donkeys, as a message to others to comply with local leash laws -- is testimony to the freakishly twisted logic and morality of a privileged elite. By vigilante shooting, no less, carried out within a populated area? I'm starting to understand the Stanford Prison Experiment. Hopefully it's a localized psychosis, or this nation is in big trouble.


7 people like this
Posted by Barron Park resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 19, 2015 at 12:42 pm

If only the Palo Alto police would do their jobs and issue tickets to people with un-leased dogs. Every night you see dogs walking/running around without leases.

I'm so tired of having to pay for their services when they can't be bothered to do the easiest things to protect us.

They must be waiting for a fatality before they do anything about this problem.

The people of Palo Alto will have to form their own Guardian's Angels to fix the situation.


6 people like this
Posted by Joan D
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 19, 2015 at 1:10 pm

Yes, people should leash their dogs. That said, there will never be 100% compliance. Someone will skirt the law. Just look around you while driving and notice how many people are breaking traffic laws. If the true goal is to protect the donkeys, then I think the number one priority should be to install a proper fence around the paddock. It does not have to be a "cage." Replacing the barbed wire (which is also a serious safety hazard for the donkeys, by the way) with "no climb" fencing would do the trick and would be much more attractive than barbed wire as well. The gate could be lined with wire mesh. These modifications would substantially reduce the chances of loose dogs invading the paddock, while still allowing visiting humans to pet and interact with the donkeys.

Example of mesh panel gate: Web Link
Example of no-climb fencing: Web Link


16 people like this
Posted by Responsibility
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2015 at 1:27 pm

For those defending the freedom of dogs please remember that one can not predict a dogs behavior on all occasions.

True events:
1. Jogger stops for an approaching dog off-leash and owners say "he is friendly". Runner continues run and get bit, drawing blood, by the same dog. Runner asks owners for vet information to make sure dog has had shots and dog owners are offended.

2. Signs all over facilities at Gunn HS saying no dogs allowed and owners bring unleashed dogs. When approached to make them aware they act as if the rules are for everyone else. "My dog is friendly" attitude.

3. Bicyclist sees puppy on leash close to path. Slows to let dog owner be aware that they were approaching. Again, dog owner acknowledges and biker continues. Young dog lashes out and bites the leg of the biker.

None of these owners are "bad people" but they can not predict the behavior of their dogs, period. Ownership of dogs come with tremendous responsibility.


22 people like this
Posted by Tired
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 19, 2015 at 1:48 pm

So tired of off leash dogs!


20 people like this
Posted by Typical Palo Alto
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 19, 2015 at 1:49 pm

I have been tired of this type of behavior for way too long. Dogs off leash on all of our schools, pooping everywhere, harassing walkers and runners, and now this. I will never apologize for giving a swift kick to a dogs head if it approaches me off leash; if only the donkeys had done the same. And by the way, I have a dog and I love him, but I do not let it off leash around other people or animals and certainly not in places where the law says I cannot! Those of you saying it is Mr Witts responsibility to enforce the fence are out of your mind.


1 person likes this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 19, 2015 at 3:06 pm

re @Neal -- "A BB gun is not a rifle. It's a smooth bore."

Occurred to me also, but looked it up and found that many airguns capable of shooting BBs are indeed rifled. More pertinent to the headline, is whether this was a simple BB gun or a more effective pellet gun. I'd carry the latter when going after varmints.


6 people like this
Posted by Truthseeker
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 19, 2015 at 3:32 pm

Truthseeker is a registered user.

@walker, aside from the fact that you totally lost sight of what this discussion topic is about, let's examine your ridiculous comment:

You wrote: "Now how can we get those arrogant bike riders to aim their super powerful LED head and handlebar lamps at the ground they are riding on instead of directly into the eyes of innocent walkers."

Why don't we tell bikers to get off the road? Why don't we tell people not to bike at night? Why don't we shut down all that dangerous car traffic? (Sarcasm intended)

OR, why don't we tell pedestrians to stop jay-walking? Why don't we tell pedestrians to stay out of the designated bike lanes and stay on the sidewalks? And most importantly, why don't those "innocent" walkers keep their noses out of the business of law-abiding bikers who try to keep themselves AND walkers AND vehicles safe, so that there are no fatal accidents in poor lighting conditions? Geez. You should be grateful.


8 people like this
Posted by Yup
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2015 at 3:38 pm

>> a family pet deserves summary execution for harassing (but not harming) a couple of donkeys

Ah, so you're saying that all dogs are more important than "a couple of donkeys," so much so that they should be protected when their owners break the law and allow them to trespass onto someone else's property and inflict great distress (which could easily have been great physical harm) on "a couple of donkeys." Talk about twisted logic and morality...

If a family loves their pet they will protect them by keeping them on leash and out of harm's way. Dog owners have 100% ability to protect their dogs, unless they are too lazy or too entitled to do so.


5 people like this
Posted by Yup
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2015 at 3:40 pm

Oh for criminy sake, stop the pedestrian/bike argument - it has NOTHING to do with this thread!


13 people like this
Posted by RH
a resident of Triple El
on Aug 19, 2015 at 4:17 pm

Yet another example of the problem in not enforcing leash laws. Even at the Jordan School field, where off-leash has been tacitly allowed for many years despite a sign explicitly saying a leash is required, dog owners continue to insist they need to run their dogs off-leash. No, they don't, especially when a significant percentage of them are out of control (running after kids, stealing sports balls and damaging them--two of my daughters, if you need examples--and leaving droppings that owners frequently miss). Until the community at large, and therefore the police, decide leash laws are there for a reason, incidents like this will continue to happen.


15 people like this
Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 19, 2015 at 4:21 pm

There is absolutely no obligation of a land owner to build a fence sufficient to prevent people who are breaking the law from entering his land and harming his livestock or the livestock of his tenant. If children were entering the area, then it might form an attractive nuisance. That is quite different than what we have which is the dogs (property) of scofflaw nimrods invading his land and attempting to take his property (or that of his tenant).

The entitlement of some people in suggesting that he somehow is responsible to prevent people from allowing their property to damage his property is just astounding to me.


13 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 19, 2015 at 4:26 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

Dogs of leash and their entitled owners are clearly a problem, so don't stand by and do nothing. If you see someone with their dog off leash, politely remind them about the leash law. If they refuse to comply, tell them you will call the police, then call the police (front desk, not 911). Take their picture and let them know you are recording them. If this is happening at a school, let the principal know about the problem, and the danger to children.


14 people like this
Posted by Joan D
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 19, 2015 at 4:31 pm

Michele Dauber and Typical Palo Alto: No, James Witt is not obligated to have a decent fence that protects the donkeys entrusted to his care from loose dogs. Neither am I obligated to lock my front door to prevent robbers from entering my home. It is of course illegal to rob houses, but at the end of the day, I would rather protect myself and my family from criminals than suffer the consequences of standing by and wishing everyone would just be a good citizen.


6 people like this
Posted by Experienced Horseman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2015 at 5:06 pm

Maria-- the problem with chicken wire is that small horses or donkeys can get their hoof caught in it.

I once rescued a very young filly who did this and it nearly severed the tendons below her ankle, to say nothing of blood loss and scar tissue.


1 person likes this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 19, 2015 at 5:39 pm

Last night at the PACC they celebrated Palo Alto Perry - what a great job they did. PA Perry was everywhere and did everything. He had great outfits for all of his adventures.

Kudos to the people that made that happen. Kudos to the PACC which helped support the effort. That put a smile on everyone's face.

Hopefully those good feelings will prompt the city council to provide the funding and skill, materials to build a new enclosure. I am seeing new fences all over PA which people have put up for privacy and to protect from their dogs getting loose. The slats are very close so dogs cannot get in or out. That type fence could work well. Maybe someone can request the city help out here.


6 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2015 at 6:04 pm

@Appalled

"that a family pet deserves summary execution for harassing (but not harming) a couple of donkeys,"

Unless Mr. Witt has an extremely powerful BB gun, it's very unlikely a dog would get much more than a welt from a BB unless it hit him in the face.


3 people like this
Posted by Sparty
a resident of another community
on Aug 19, 2015 at 6:45 pm

Sparty is a registered user.

"Why should Mr. Witt have to incur more cost to accommodate people who are breaking the law while the police do nothing to enforce that law?"

Why should I have to lock my doors or take my laptop with me when I go into the mall for a couple hours. It's perfectly fine just sitting on the passenger seat of my car.


3 people like this
Posted by Sparty
a resident of another community
on Aug 19, 2015 at 6:51 pm

Sparty is a registered user.

Good thing coyotes haven't been seen in this area in over 150 years. Otherwise that extra fencing might be a good idea.


PAPD/PAAC is always "on a call" when you let dispatch know about off leash dogs. I gave up trying to get them to come out to Addison Elementary where the locals let their precious snowflake dogs run off leash every day of the year.

Not only that, they have a lot of attitude about it. I was told I was making an off leash dog act up by some guy who lives literally across the street from Addison. I guess his proximity to the school and fancy modernist house means he and his dog have more rights than anyone else in the neighborhood


6 people like this
Posted by Yup
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2015 at 6:57 pm

>> "Why should I have to lock my doors or take my laptop with me when I go into the mall for a couple hours. It's perfectly fine just sitting on the passenger seat of my car."

How much does it cost you to lock your car? I bet it's less than fencing a large yard. But hey, at least the police actively patrol and will arrest people that break into your car.


2 people like this
Posted by Sparty
a resident of another community
on Aug 19, 2015 at 7:14 pm

Sparty is a registered user.

>How much does it cost you to lock your car? I bet it's less than fencing a large yard.


Not sure what it costs to put up a fence on that property. But I bet it's less than what people who have NEVER HAD AN ACCIDENT are forced to cumulatively pay by California law.

And I bet there are people who have never called the police, ride their bike a lot and don't have any kids, let alone kids in school, who pay a lot more in property tax--every year--than the cost of a fence.


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Posted by RV a PA resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 19, 2015 at 7:31 pm

RV a PA resident is a registered user.

I definitely agree that leash laws should be enforced for the safety of other people ( children, adults and seniors) and even for the protection of other dogs and wildlife. However, the situation here is that this type of incidence has happened multiple times so just for the peace of mind and safety of the donkeys please protect them. I am sure there could be a fundraiser to support the costs as the entire community loves the donkeys and is very appreciative of Mr. Witt for providing the accommodations!


2 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 19, 2015 at 7:34 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@Sparty -So you are arguing that people who don't have kids get less value for the taxes, therefore dogs should be allowed off leash, and people should pay for their own fences. Allright, not sure about the connection there, pretty tenuous.


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Posted by Sparty
a resident of another community
on Aug 19, 2015 at 7:44 pm

Sparty is a registered user.

Read through the comments. I'm the one complaining about people not keeping their dogs on leash and the fact that PA PD/AC does NOTHING about it.

That you get that I think people should leave their dog off leash from saying people should take care of their own property/farm animals is tenuous.


These donkeys don't live up in Grass Valley or Nevada City or some place where your next neighbor is 2 miles away. They're in the suburbs


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 19, 2015 at 8:00 pm

There is a dog park at Mitchell Park - a place for people to go so their dogs can socialize with other dogs and play. Maybe BOLS Park should have a section fenced off as a dog park. Maybe that is a need there that can be put to good use. If there is a dog park then there is no excuse for people letting their dogs run off leash.


3 people like this
Posted by Maria
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 19, 2015 at 8:11 pm

Okay, so chicken wire is a bad idea, how about the material in window screens, just put that up around the bottom of the fences?


1 person likes this
Posted by Joan D
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 19, 2015 at 8:58 pm

Sparty: I personally saw a coyote on the hill behind Gunn just this year. It ran off the hill and down the path right toward the donkey's paddock and disappeared through the gate to the VA. I keep my horse at Pagemill Pastures, which is just a short distance away, and we see coyotes in the pastures regularly. So, it's not far fetched at all to consider that coyotes could be a threat to the donkeys as well as loose dogs.


9 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 19, 2015 at 9:10 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@sparty - the problem is off leash dogs, the solution is on leash dogs. So the fence is irrelevant. What if a dog craps in your front yard every day. Is the solution to get dog owners to be responsible and obey the law and pick it up, or are you going to complain to the homeowner and tell them to build a fence along the sidewalk to keep dogs off the lawn?


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 19, 2015 at 9:36 pm

Maybe, Mr. Witt was carrying an air soft rifle.


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Posted by ChrisC
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 19, 2015 at 9:58 pm

ChrisC is a registered user.

A friend of mine was knocked down by a large off-leash dig. She had to go to ER for stitches. The owner merely said "sorry, " which was something, but then he left without offering to help her at all. I told her she shoukd've called the police? Is that the right thing to do in such cases? Would the officers try to find the nan and dig and what would the charges be?


2 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 19, 2015 at 10:09 pm

Maybe we should send the Animal Control people over there they could site people.


5 people like this
Posted by Sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 19, 2015 at 10:12 pm

I too like to walk along the bike path behind Gunn and through Bol Park. Almost every time I walk, regardless of the time of day I see at least several people with off leash dogs. I have spoken to some of them. I was once told that laws were meant to be broken.
I have called police and Animal Control. Police said to call A C. A C supposedly went to Bol Park and spoke to some dog owners telling them dogs must be on a leash at all times. Since no one was cited or fined, nothing has changed.
I am a senior and of very slight body build, some of the dogs I see off leash easily out weigh me. All I need is for some dog to jump up and put paws on my shoulders. The dog would likely push me over. Who knows what injuries I might suffer as a result.
Dog owners need to obey laws just as the rest of us do. Please enforce this rule.
It may require someone to be in the park and along the bike path to enforce the law with hearty fines and citations for a week or more. Bol Park is not a place for off leash dogs. Take them to Mitchell Park and use the fenced area.
A big thank you to Jim Witt for protecting the donkeys. I hope that when they die, we will replace them with more donkeys.
Dogs that are left off leash often form packs and then hunt livestock. This happened in
Portola Valley.


4 people like this
Posted by Francis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 19, 2015 at 10:14 pm

My family and I were having a picnic at Bol Park on Monday when an off leash dog almost attacked my husband. The dog owner was on his phone throughout the incident and did not apologize. When he was finally able to control his dog, he put a leash on him and ten minutes later took it off again. The dog was running wildly throughout the park. We have 2 young children and at that point decided to leave the park. We noticed that there were at least 5 dogs that were unleashed on our way to the car. We will never go to this park again unless dog owners obey the law and keep their dogs leashed. I contacted the police and they told me to call animal control or the police department if this happens again. I'm glad the donkeys are okay!


2 people like this
Posted by Yup
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2015 at 10:56 pm

@Sunshine, if you subscribe to Sparty's point of view, you are responsible for ensuring your own safety, so perhaps you need to hire a bodyguard or get body armor to protect you from the inevitable off-leash dogs when you walk. Much more reasonable than asking the cops to enforce the law with what are probably otherwise law-abiding citizens (not thugs that break into your home and car).


5 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 19, 2015 at 11:19 pm

The comments on the dogs in Bol Park and their owners is disturbing. If there are a bunch of people who think the laws are there to be broken then we reached the point of too much density. At some point there is a break point from people enjoying their place to live and then people who are too packed together that they are acting out aggression. Like dog road rage.

There is a fire station on the corner - maybe we need to have a police substation with the fire station. Maybe a couple of police cars parked in the area is needed to tamper down the aggression.

Consider a small dog park so that people get the idea that there is a dedicated place for the dogs and their owners.

On the Stevens Creek Trail there are patrols in golf carts to make sure that the area is safe and not vandalized. Maybe we need some police patrols on bikes. This is a big concern that needs some serious attention.


1 person likes this
Posted by Tired
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 20, 2015 at 9:01 am

Resident 1 - very well said. This is exactly what is happening in this town.

"The comments on the dogs in Bol Park and their owners is disturbing. If there are a bunch of people who think the laws are there to be broken then we reached the point of too much density. At some point there is a break point from people enjoying their place to live and then people who are too packed together that they are acting out aggression. Like dog road rage."


4 people like this
Posted by sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 20, 2015 at 9:21 am

Bravo to Jim Witt! and a big Thank You!
I like to walk in Bol Park and on the bike path, but do not do it as much as I would like because of the off leash dogs. When I point out to dog owners that the law is that they must keep the dogs on leash, the owners are often surly and verbally attack me. I admit that the signs are not as prominent as they should be. We need large, very clear signs at all entrances to Bol Park and along the bike path. These signs should be large enough, clearly enough stated, and visible to anyone who can see at all so that dog owners have no excuse.
Calling in the violators to police sends your call to Animal Control. Animal Control will come out, but does not issue citations or fines. It should be that the first violation results in a high fine, especially when you are in a public park with the dog.
Finally, we must protect our donkeys. They are part of the Barron Park heritage. If a dog bothers the donkeys, the owner should be responsible for all vet bills to heal heal the donkey or for the replacement of the donkey should that be necessary--NO EXCUSES.


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Posted by ndn
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 20, 2015 at 1:49 pm

Does Jim Witt have a permit to carry a gun?
Were the donkeys only scared or were they about to be bitten by a 9month's old dog? And who is the dog owner?
A tragedy could have happened if Witt had opened fire and hurt another person..., a donkey (who can't understand most commands) the dog ( maybe the dog was just there, not about to do bitting or harassment)
And yes, nonwithstanding dogs' owners propestations dogs must be on a leash in a public park.

Protect everybody by enclosing the park and have information on the gate. I had no idea that there were donkey in the park


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Posted by ndn
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 20, 2015 at 1:55 pm

I agree with Tom and appalled. I'm appalled at the cattle mentality espoused in many comments.


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Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 20, 2015 at 7:23 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

Believe it or not CALIFORNIA HAS AN OPEN CARRY LAW IN THE STATE!

From Wiki:

Open carry of loaded or unloaded firearms in public is generally prohibited, although open carry may be allowed in unincorporated rural areas under certain circumstances.

Personal possession (i.e., carry) of a loaded firearm is prohibited in incorporated areas (such as inside city limits) or prohibited areas of unincorporated territory without a license to carry or other exemption provided for by law.[47] A license to carry "loaded and exposed" may be issued by a Police Chief or County Sheriff in a county with population of less than 200,000 persons at the last census.[32] No license or permit is required to openly carry a loaded firearm in unincorporated areas where discharge is not prohibited by local ordinance.

To protect ANYONE on rural trails, CO OPEN CARRY is allowed; that means if you are attacked by ANY ANIMAL, you have the right to kill that animal in any fashion. It is also allowed that ANY PERSON CAN DISCHARGE A WEAPON ON THEIR PRIVATE PROPERTY AS LONG AS THE PROJECTILE DOES NOT LEAVE THEIR PROPERTY.
I think that it is high time that the PAPD start imforming the public on ALL the rules for ownership and use of ALL WEAPONS including Airsoft ( not really a firearm ), BB and pellet guns, blowguns and pistols, long guns and shotguns. This problem shows an ignorance both the PAPD in enforcing the rights of the civilian caretaker for the mules! The people who want to shift the blame to the caretakers is either willful ignorance or a feeling of entitlement. THE PAPD HAD BETTER GET OF THEIR COLLECTIVE BUTTS AND INFORM PEOPLE OF THEIR RIGHTS CONCERNING THE USE OF THEIR WEAPONS! To do anything less may show who the real criminals are in Palo Alto. BTW, criminals do not like to attempt a burglary in rural Colorado. The Castle Doctrine eliminates repeat offenders and reduces the prison population. A WIN-WIN for everyone except the burglar.

Bring the mules to Colorado. They will be protected from all varmits, including the two legged type.


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Posted by K in Barron Park
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 20, 2015 at 11:33 pm

I was there during the incident. Mr. Witt had a hand gun and in addition, what appeared to be a rifle. From a distance, it wasn't clear that it was a BB gun. In addition, he had a hand gun too which as he left the pasture, he stuck in the back of his waist band. I saw it with my own eyes. I saw the dog running in the pasture. I heard Mr. Witt shout if you don't get that *@#! dog off my property in 5 seconds I am going to shoot him. Things were very chaotic, emotions were elevated to say the least. That dog should NEVER have been off leash. The situation was highly charged and it was clear that someone could get seriously hurt. And yes, I am the citizen who called 911 because things seemed to be escalating. After waiting with the officer more than an hour, he took my info. and I left for home. On the way home I saw the dog and owner on Ilima way or Paradise Way. I asked him if his was the dog that had been in the pasture and he said yes. The dog at 9 months is rather large, taller than my 2 year old, 60 lb. lab.

I was also the "second woman and a dog" who talked to the officer at the blockade at Laguna and Baron. I had wanted to tell the officer about seeing the dog and owner and details about them. I was standing right next to the officer. He was holding a rifle but I couldn't tell if it was cocked. He was asking me about the rifle Mr. Witt had and I told him it was slimmer than the one he was holding. There was no "sharp click" from the rifle, I had been standing next to the officer as Ms. Harding-Barlow" left. It is possible that as I started walking away, I may has scuffed my feet or stepped on something that made a sound.

Maybe a solution would be to set up a fund to build a secondary fence on the trail side of the donkey enclosure. I know for a fact that many people outside of the neighborhood come into Barron Park to walk their dogs.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 21, 2015 at 8:34 am

The more a person reads this the worse it gets. It sounds like there is no clear dividing line between personal property and the park. Sounds like a fence needs to be erected at the property line with a No Trespassing sign.
No - that is not what the owner envisioned when the property was bought but there is intensive action to develop that section of the city - much about the orchard that is suppose to be turned into homes.

Much new traffic in this area, much activity with building crews, time to define the property lines with a fence. Maybe those sweet animals would like a nice retirement home on SU campus in the barn area so they could entertain visitors and be in proximity of other equine.


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Posted by JaneP
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 21, 2015 at 1:15 pm

[Post removed.]


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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