Trees in Fairbanks park destroyed by dog

Posted: Thursday, June 20, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- At first, borough parks maintenance supervisor Dan Chagnon thought a broken tree at Snedden Park was the result of typical winter wear and tear.

Four months later, borough parks workers are still finding broken trees at the park and it appears to be the work of a tree-mauling dog.

The dog, believed to be a pitbull, rottweiler or a cross between the two, has been seen with a group of teen-agers. It has destroyed at least five trees and ripped branches off several others over the course of the last few months, said park caretaker Robert Arnold.

The borough has received at least three reports from people who have seen the dog in action, borough parks and recreation director Karl Kassel said. The most recent attack came Monday on a chokecherry tree.

''What we've been told is the kids let the dog loose, it races across the park, jumps up into a tree, grabs branches and pulls them down to break it and then chews it down into a three-foot stump,'' Kassel told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

The trees, which are about 2 inches in diameter, were among about 40 planted as part of an Arbor Day celebration three years ago. It cost the borough about $5,000 to plant the trees, a combination of spruce, chokecherry and birch, Kassel said.

Vandalism isn't the only thing that worries Kassel. There is also a safety issue, he said. The park, which sits on the bank of the Chena River and features a basketball court, playground and barbecue grills, is a popular place for kids to play.

''It's a real nice park and now we have people who are afraid to go there because they're worried this dog is going to chew their kids up after the dog is done with the tree,'' Kassel said.

Kassel has notified borough animal control officers and the borough has responded several times to calls from residents who have seen the dog in the act. ''By the time we get there the dog and kids are gone,'' he said.

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