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Forest Preserve Police Cite Woman After Dog Park Facebook Post

Forest preserve police were monitoring a Facebook group dedicated to Whalon Lake Dog Park after members began reporting cases of kennel cough.

Credit: File photo
Credit: File photo
More than two weeks ago, a Facebook group dedicated to pet owners who frequent the Forest Preserve District of Will County's Whalon Lake Dog Park began reporting that pets who visited the park were becoming sick.

Dog lovers believed pets had contracted kennel cough, a contagious upper respiratory infection, while frolicking at the park, located on Royce Road in Naperville near Bolingbrook.

While the forest preserve district said it could not confirm the illnesses as kennel cough, spokeswoman Cindy Cain did send an email to dog park patrons urging them to report illnesses and to stay away from the park if their pets showed signs of illness.

Now, one member of the Whalon Lake Dog Park Facebook group said one of her posts on the page, which is now being monitored by forest preserve staff  — and apparently forest preserve police — has landed her in hot water.

On Thursday — two days after Patch ran an article on the reports of kennel cough — the woman said she received a citation from the forest preserve police saying she'll have to pay a fine.

The citation came with a note: "It has been brought to our attention that on May 18, 2014 at 8:58 pm, you posted on a social media site that you knowingly entered the dog park without a valid 2014 dog park permit." 

The woman said that's not what she actually posted. 

"That's dead wrong. I haven't gone there since 2013!," she wrote.

The post that got her in trouble, which was written in response to the reports of kennel cough, said, "I was feeling bad that I haven't bought a pass and been bringing Ginger there but I'm pretty glad I haven't."

The woman said she was misunderstood. She said the post, which was included along with her citation, was simply expressing her relief that she hadn't been at the park with her dog during the time of the reported kennel cough outbreak.

Forest preserve district spokeswoman Cain confirmed that the woman had indeed received a citation.

"We did issue a citation to a woman based on her Facebook post," Cain said in an email to Patch. "The only reason we were monitoring the group is because of the complaints of kennel cough. When we saw her post about visiting the dog park without buying a permit, it was our responsibility to respond."

The woman said she was "shocked and confused" when she received the notice, while another group member called it "gestapo tactics" from the forest preserve district.

Cain said monitoring social media is not a common practice for the district.

"We are not scrutinizing social media looking for violations," Cain said. "But if we encounter one in the normal course of business, we believe it is in the best interests of our public to enforce our ordinance requirements to make sure public safety and the preserves are protected.

"After reading the original Facebook comment and follow-up comments, our police department decided to investigate and issue the ticket. The woman who posted the original statement will have a chance to appeal this ticket in court, and she will not have to pay the fine until her appeal is heard."


got2bekiddingme May 28, 2014 at 10:47 AM
What we have here is not a failure to communicate, it's a failure to comprehend. Stop issuing ridiculous tickets and brush up on it instead - geesh. And get off Facebook on the taxpayer's dime!
Chris May 28, 2014 at 02:10 PM
Once again we find out why the big 'G' is broke and dysfunctional - they're sitting around monitoring Facebook and issuing citations based on comments posted. Big brother at its best! The good news is that this poor lady will now have to miss work, possibly multiple times to appeal this citation that could have been rescinded. Real nice guys - a real class act!
JIm Smith May 29, 2014 at 08:10 AM
Did they investigate the real reason she posted? Were dogs getting sick there? Sort of stupid it seems to me. Did they see here in the park? Can they prove she was there. Hearsay evidence is no-good. I live in Alabama; but if i posted that i visited there; would they send me a ticket? Another giant step for every alert cop reading facebook.
Skifu May 30, 2014 at 02:08 PM
Justice for one. The person that decided that a citation was warranted should still get fired over this. http://naperville.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/forest-preserve-voids-facebookbased-citation?ncid=newsltuspatc00000001&evar4=picks-1-post&newsRef=true
got2bekiddingme June 04, 2014 at 09:21 AM
Well, at least the Forest Preserve District promptly admitted how wrong this was and quickly rectified the situation - I can only hope the City of Naperville is following this story and sees how easy it is to do.


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