Off-Leash Park Director: Owner Failed to Keep His Dogs From Train Tracks

Lori Parsons of Off Leash Area Edmonds says Christian Rothrauff, who blames the city of Edmonds for the death of his two huskies, is himself to blame.

The director of the Off Leash Area Edmonds (O.L.A.E.) dog park says an Edmonds resident who is suing the city after his two dogs died at the park says he failed to keep his animals safe.

Christian Rothrauff was at the park at Marina Beach with his two Siberian huskies, Baron and Nugget, when they slipped around a fence and were hit by a train. Rothrauff told King 5 News that the city knew the dog park wasn’t secure, and he wants compensation.

Fencing at the dog park, which was recently renovated, was added at the south end of the designated off-leash area, which still has open access to the beach and Puget Sound.

“Mr. Rathrauff took his dogs to an off-leash area,” said Lori Parsons, director of O.L.A.E. “Off-leash area means that alone—a designated area where dogs are allowed off-leash. Off-leash area does not imply, nor should it be assumed, that the area is either fully or partially fenced. Every day, it is up to us dog owners to judge the situation(s) we put our dogs in and evaluate their safety. It is always our responsibility to keep our dogs safe.”  

As stated by Rathrauff in his claim against the city of Edmonds, notes Parsons, since 2009 Rathrauff has taken his four huskies to the off-leash area two to four times per month for exercise. “Given the amount of time that he spent there,” said Parsons, “he should have been fully aware of the beach landscape, the fencing, the work being done by BNSF, and the train tracks running parallel to the Off-Leash Area.

“It is very unfortunate that Mr. Rathrauff has chosen to file a lawsuit against the city of Edmonds for the very tragic deaths of his two dogs. Over the years, the city has done everything possible to keep the off-leash area safe for dogs and humans. This is a designated area on Puget Sound which runs parallel to train tracks. We all must realize the inherent risks in that and take personal responsibility for keeping our dogs safe.”

Stephanie Neff October 09, 2011 at 12:49 AM
Shame on Lori Parsons for blaming the dog owner in this case. While we are all responsible for our pets - it is the city and the railroad company that are responsible for maintaining a secure fence. Memo to Parson: at dog parks dogs run around and will venture where they have access - what does she expect, dog owners to chase after their dogs, hover over them or keep them on leash? The vast majority of people I have spoken with who take their dogs to this park assume the place is secure and safe; if they had known this dog park was not secured from the tracks they would never take their dogs there. To have a dog park next to a train track without a fully secure fence is irresponsible and reckless. So, obviously the city has NOT "done everything possible to keep the off-leash area safe for dogs and humans." And how exactly am I supposed to "take personal responsibility for keeping our dogs safe" in an area that is unkowningly unsafe? If there is a hole somewhere in the fence how am I to know that? And to have Parsons, as the director of the dog park, make the above statements is especially disturbing - she sounds like a politician avoiding responsiblity and blaming others instead.
Stephanie Neff October 09, 2011 at 12:51 AM
above comments written by Ted Neff (not Stephanie)
Lori Parsons October 09, 2011 at 08:25 PM
Dear Editor: The text "The entire dog park, which was recently renovated, is now completely enclosed by fencing." in your article is inaccurate. Fencing was added at the south end of the designated Off-Leash Area. The Off-Leash Area still has open access to the beach and the Puget Sound. It would not be possible to fully fence an Off-Leash Area such as this one. Thank you for letting us discuss these issues on your website.
Brian Soergel October 09, 2011 at 09:24 PM
Thanks Lori..I have made an adjustment to the story.
Will Paterson January 04, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Since when is it not the pet owners or parent’s responsibility to check the area to make sure it is safe and secure. If one is to assume, then one will have to be responsible for their judgment. It is a very unfortunate accident and I am deeply sorry that he lost his two dogs. Perhaps the cities should start labeling which parks are secure and unsecure. Although all parks will be labeled unsecure to release liability from the city. We could also put up warning signs on all our park entrances, but this too would release the cities liability from further issues such as these. It is not uncommon in other parts of the country to have member’s only parks. These parks are pay per use or annual fee and the only way you can get in is by key card. A private company or park district then maintains the property ensuring it is safe and secure for all of its users. If the Edmonds off leash park was this labeled as safe and secure or someone paid for the service of a secure park I could understand the law suit. However this particular park is not ran this way. It is designated as an off leash park, not a securely fenced dog park. I think it is best we express grief for the loss of his dogs and come to the conclusion that if we want to maintain the freedom to use our parks we must learn to be responsible for ourselves, family & of course pets.All of this could have been avoided by walking the perimeter of the site and keeping a closer eye on his dogs.


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