HP40 rules and regulations pertaining to our 4 legged friends
HP40 Dog Policy Page
Page still under construction, Please excuse our progress...
We are interested in providing our guests a safe and low-impact means of enjoying the natural wonders of this unique and very sensitive environment here at Horse Pens 40, while also protecting the natural plants, creatures and other fragile features that exist here.
We have over 60 rare, threatened, endangered, and/or otherwise protected species in the park and on the nearby mountain, including plants, insects, and animals, and all deserve a chance to survive. It is unlawful to molest or otherwise damage many of these various species, although to canines, these species are generally indistinguishable from any others (and thus we don't let our own dogs run loose in the natural areas either). If you wish to share this fragile environment with those who already live here, there are certain trade-offs that must be made by all, for the benefit of all species involved, including humans and canines. We thank you for your understanding and your considerationconcerning the difficulties that we face in dealing with this important and complicated issue.
Beginning on Dec. 1st 2015, our new Dog Policy will take effect, on a trial basis. The details are outlined below. If you are curious why we have been forced to have such a restrictive dog policy in place, please feel free to read the very detailed letter toward the bottom of the page. The new policy is actually somewhat of an easing of our previous dog policy.
WE LOVE DOGS, and we have several of our own. We have never lived a day of our lives without a dog of some kind, sometimes many, We often rescue strays or otherwise unwanted ones that are cast away by their uncaring and irresponsible owners. If we can't keep them ourselves, we will find them a good home. We do not allow even our own dogs to roam free on HP40 property for the same reasons we cannot allow yours to do so.
No dog, however gentle or well-trained, can make a positive contribution to a nature park and its natural inhabitants. Our job is to prevent a negative impact to the park and those who live and visit here.
FOR THOSE WHO ARE TRAVELING WITH THEIR DOG AND ARE CAMPING AT HP40: If you are unable to leave your dog safely at home, we will now allow camping with your dog in ONE AREA of the campground only under certain conditions:
1. You must declare your dog upon arrival, list it on your camping application, and pay a camping fee for your dog at the same rate as the normal camping fee in effect at the time. All pets must have a rabies tag and all paper documentation to be in compliance with all applicable Alabama state laws. It is your responsibility to know and adhere to all laws pertaining to your dog. HP40 staff will direct you to the proper area for camping with your pet.
2. You must leave your pet in your vehicle while you are out of the campsite. NO DOGS MAY BE UNATTENDED AT ANY TIME. NO DOGS ARE ALLOWED IN THE NATURE AREAS OR IN OTHER AREAS OF THE CAMPGROUND FOR ANY REASON.
3. When you are in your campsite, your pet may be in your campsite with you ON A LEASH AT ALL TIMES. They will be allowed IN YOUR CAMPSITE ONLY, AND ONLY WHILE YOU ARE PRESENT IN YOUR CAMPSITE. THEY MUST BE ON A LEASH AT ALL TIMES THAT THEY ARE OUTSIDE OF YOUR VEHICLE.
4. YOU MUST CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR DOG IMMEDIATELY. Failure to do so will result in your being asked to leave the park, without recourse or refund. If HP40 staff have to clean up after your dog, you will not be allowed to bring it back again, and you will affect our dog policy in a very negative way. We have a designated dog exercise area in the large field outside the middle gate which you may access by walking your dog there ON A LEASH and allowing your pet to run and play UNDER YOUR DIRECT SUPERVISION. If you allow it off the leash in this exercise area, YOU MUST KEEP IT OUT OF THE FENCES AND AWAY FROM ANY HORSES IN ANY OF THE PASTURES OR OTHER AREAS AT HP40. Injury or death to your dog or our horses can result from this type of behavior. It is against the law to allow your dog to chase, bark at, or otherwise harass livestock. KEEP YOUR DOG OUT OF THE FENCES.
5. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL DAMAGE OR INJURY TO ANYONE AND ANYTHING CAUSED BY YOU OR YOUR PET, EITHER DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY. PLEASE LEAVE YOUR PET SAFELY AT HOME !
THESE RULES WILL BE STRICTLY ENFORCED. This dog camping policy will evolve over time in accordance with the level of problems we have to deal with, and the impact the owners allow their pets to make on the park. Only you can decide how, and only time will tell.
FOR DAY USERS: No changes to our old policy. Your dogs must remain in your vehicle at all times while inside the campground and parking lot. We request that you PLEASE LEAVE YOUR PET SAFELY AT HOME ! In warmer weather, your vehicle must be parked in the shade, with windows providing adequate ventilation, but not allowing your dog to exit. You must provide water at all times and check up on your dog regularly. We personally do not approve of this practice, and it will NOT BE ALLOWED IN WEATHER THAT EXCEEDS 80 DEGREES.HP40 will not be responsible for your pet, it's well-being or it's actions at any time.
An exercise area is available in the large field outside the middle gate which you may access by driving your vehicle there and allowing your pet to run and play UNDER YOUR DIRECT SUPERVISION.
If you allow it off the leash in this exercise area, YOU MUST KEEP IT OUT OF THE FENCES AND AWAY FROM ANY HORSES IN ANY OF THE PASTURES OR OTHER AREAS AT HP40. Injury or death to your dog or our horses can result from this type of behavior. It is against the law to allow your dog to chase, bark at, or otherwise harass livestock. KEEP YOUR DOG OUT OF THE FENCES.
YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL DAMAGE OR INJURY TO ANYONE AND ANYTHING CAUSED BY YOU OR YOUR PET, EITHER DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY.PLEASE LEAVE YOUR PET SAFELY AT HOME !
An explanatory letter to dog owners:
Our current restrictive dog rules were forced upon us as a result of the abuse of our former very lenient dog policy. Previously, by our family's choice, dogs were allowed anywhere in the park if kept on a leash. This was done on the honor system, and was essentially unenforceable without excessive time and effort spent. Most of the problems came during our bouldering season, as boulderers are unable to both climb and hold their dogs, thus requiring them to be tied to a tree or ???. This causes much damage to the trees and other growth, and since many guests would set their dogs loose as soon as they were out of sight, it caused much other damage and disturbance as well. (We often had as many as 70 or more dogs here on a Saturday). Our other guests were constantly complaining about them (occasionally as many as 30 dog complaints in a single day), and we were spending much of our time chasing other peoples' dogs. Not to mention the assorted wildlife in the park, both flora and fauna, all of which suffered greatly.
We have had dog bites, dog fights, children and elderly guests knocked down, children growled at by large loose dogs, food stolen from campsites (even steaks taken right off the grill), many of our 80 trash barrels raided daily, smaller dogs attacked by larger dogs, our natural wild animals (and often their young) killed, loose dogs entering the store and cafe, and much more. We have had literally hundreds of small trees damaged beyond recovery due to dogs being tied and /or tangled to the trees while the owner climbed or whatever. They have been tied to the climber's crash pads and have then dragged them through the nature areas, leaving no mosses, small trees, or plants intact behind them. This is not to mention several hundred piles of dog poop on a busy weekend. Literally dog poop everywhere. On the trails, walkways, shoes, rental crashpads, inside, outside, everywhere. NASTY!
The only time I have ever been bitten by a dog in my entire life was here in my own yard, by a guests' totally un-vaccinated dog...We have also had our horses chased through our fences, with resultant injuries and damages.
As a direct result of this, we were forced by those irresponsible dog owners to establish the present dog policy.
It was our conclusion that the proper place for dogs in a nature park is in their owners vehicle or preferably to remain happily at their home. We do have a very large grassy exercise area for dogs in an area of the park where they can do little damage to the wildlife, our guests, and to the operations of the park. We also have an area of the park where we can allow owners who are traveling with their dog to camp under certain conditions.
(By the way, several years ago we hosted the Heart of Dixie American Bulldog Show, one of the largest and most respected dog shows of its type in the United States, and even then, we couldn't allow the dogs here to run loose or to enter the nature areas. The owners and competitors were very professional, the dogs were very valuable, and they did not want to risk their pets by allowing them to run loose anyway.)
While beloved pets and faithful friends and companions, dogs can truly make no positive contribution to a nature park and to the living things therein. While they can bring much pleasure to their one owner, they can cause serious problems for the many other guests and all of the other living things there.
Just the presence of even a good dog disturbs and does harm to the natural patterns of life of the creatures here at HP40. When we allowed dogs in the nature areas, we saw almost no wild animals except the occasional bird or gray squirrel. No we see flying squirrels, foxes, raccoons, groundhogs, rabbits, deer, turkey, and more. I see no more dens and nests ruined by our guests' dogs, and no more small dead mammals and birds killed by an otherwise perhaps harmless and even good-natured dog who is only doing what his genes tell him to. Our ducks have been killed by a loose dog, and I have followed a dog who wastefully raided at least 4 ground-dwelling bird nests (quail, dove, killdeer, whippoorwill, etc.) on one circle through the park. Who knows what else has suffered on a daily basis. As owners of the park, our family is responsible for the well-being of our guests, and of the natural plants, insects and animal inhabitants who live here.
We do have natural predators in the park, but as a mountain boy I can tell the difference in the signs of their necessary and important work. Natural predators face an ancient task of survival which is a vital part of the natural processes that we are trying to preserve here, a process which dogs cannot contribute to in any positive way.
We consider our dog policy a worthwhile trade-off in favor of the natural inhabitants of the park, as well as greatly benefiting our guests, and our family and staff. We apologize for the inconvenience it causes the responsible pet owners, but we had no real choice in the matter. We thank you for your understanding.
I LOVE DOGS, as I love all animals, and I follow my own advice and leave my own dogs safely at home.