Reports of large-scale brawls and aggressive canines at Schiller Park have caught the attention of the Columbus Division of Police.
Law-enforcement officials addressed the issues at the monthly German Village Society police luncheon, held April 25 at the Meeting Haus.
There's been an uptick in the number of complaints by local residents regarding unleashed canines, some of which have been terrorizing park patrons and other pets.
Jerry Glick, who organizes the luncheons, relayed one anecdote: A family was having a picnic when two Dobermans burst onto the scene, jumped on the table and began devouring the food. The panic-stricken family left.
Some in the audience continued to stress the need for a leash law, which Columbus does not have.
"It's sad our leadership in this city is afraid to do this for us," resident Janet Druen said.
Alan McKnight, director of recreation and parks for the city, said that owners must "maintain direct control" of their pets, meaning the dog must obey voice commands.
"If that dog takes off when it sees a squirrel and starts chasing it, it's not direct control," McKnight said, acknowledging a number of dogs don't appear to observe those directives.
Although there are fines and possible jail time associated with breaking the law, police said that there's little they can do, barring personally witnessing an infraction.
Dave Shellhouse, field supervisor for Franklin County Animal Care Control, said the agency also is available to respond to calls regarding violent canine encounters.
Officials were unable to give animal-bite statistics, saying they mostly were anecdotal and that most people don't report them.
McKnight said department officials are considering a public-education campaign, which would involve signs in Schiller reminding people of the "under direct control" law.
He reminded the audience that the city has five dog parks -- the closest to German Village being at Scioto Audubon Metro Park -- where leash-free activity is encouraged.
In other news, Nicholas Blannin, who recently moved to the village, said he had witnessed several street fights, some involving large groups, at the park and saw a man get assaulted at a bus stop.
Blannins, who lives near the intersection at Jaeger Street and Stewart Avenue, said one fight involving two females spilled out into the street.
Others have involved individuals and what appeared to be large groups of youths at the basketball court.
Police said the best thing to do is report the incidents, especially if they're happening with more frequency, to ensure increased patrolling.