Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Tell Me Again Why We Have "Off-Leash"

Another raw day, temperature around freezing but heading south, a brisk wind, and snow flurries imminent. Around 8 A.M., one loose dog was at Prospect Park's Maryland Monument, following its owner into the woods. Aside from that, in about an hour walk, no loose dogs, although about 8 were on-leash. In fact, there were not even any legal loose dogs on the Peninsula.

At the public hearings and in filed comments, loose-dog advocates gave lots of reasons why their dogs just had to run loose in the city's parks. But the only reason cited by the Health Department in changing the leash law was that dogs (supposedly) didn't have enough places to exercise:

DOPR has informed the Department that [the off-leash policy] was implemented at the request of dog owners who had no alternative place to exercise their dogs.

You'd think that if dogs need off-leash exercise, they need it all year, not just when it's nice outside. But today was a an example of what we'll see all winter long: the number of leashed dogs in the park at any time of day basically doesn't change all year, but the number of unleashed dogs in the park is a function of the weather. Off-leash is not for the dogs; it's strictly for their owners.