Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April Fools Day in Prospect Park

A beautiful morning. The peninsula meadow has never looked so good, the product of weeks of labor by FIDO volunteers planting grass and filling in dog holes with sod. The fences in the peninsula woods had been repaired. We saw only one illegally unleashed dog, and he was soon surrounded by several PEP agents and given a $200 summons. Meanwhile, Parks Commissioner and dedicated environmentalist Adrian Benepe announced that a full year’s experience with off-leash had shown that the program had resulted in millions of dollars in damage to the parks, numerous lawsuits from people injured by out-of-control unleashed dogs, a large drop in non-dog-owning park visitors during dog hours, and a sharp drop in contributions to park booster organizations, which not been made up by contributions from dog food companies. Accordingly, the off-leash program will be scaled back. In Central Park and Prospect Park, the program will be limited to, respectively, the Ramble and Vale of Cashmere, both of which areas will be ploughed over because, according to Commissioner Benepe, they are now used mostly for criminal activity.

As we said, it’s April Fools Day.

A gray, threatening, but unusually warm morning.

8:30: one large unleashed brown dog, accompanied by a white male, proceeded down the west lullwater and over the lullwater bridge, whereupon the dog was leashed, apparently because the owner saw a police car in the distance.

8:40: one large loose brown dog accompanied by a black male heading towards zoo and PE#1, carrying a metal pole and accompanied by 2 loose terriers, crossed paths on the road exiting to Flatbush Ave/Empire Blvd.

Attention law enforcement, if you are reading this: a significant, core group of dog owners believes that they are entitled to keep their dogs unleashed in the parks at all times. You can find them away from the dog areas, and in the dog areas such as the Nethermead in the late afternoon. They know what they are doing is against the law because they leash their dogs when they see you, so they cannot be deterred by warnings. Organizations like FIDO do not speak for them. If you are in uniform in a patrol car, they can see you before you see them and can get where you cannot, such as the Midwood and Lookout Hill. They will be stopped only if you write summonses and make sure their paid, and you will be able to write these summonses only if you get out of your cars and uniforms and pursue the se people, on foot and incognito. If you do, you will be performing a valuable service. Illegal off-leash is not a victimless crime. In addition to damaging park property even more than legal off-leash, people are being hurt. We’ve heard several anecdotes of people who were knocked down by off-leash dogs and suffered injuries requiring, at best, extended physical therapy. And what we hear must be the tip of the iceberg.

You might be interested in the following Sept. 19, 2006 post from Alabama:

(1) Sgt. Britty and I went hiking at Oak Mountain on Sunday. We met several folks on the trail who warned us about a couple hiking with two dogs, one of which charged them and had to be restrained by its owner. The dog was off its leash, which is against park rules. (2) Our neighborhood has a message board where residents post items of interest. Yesterday, a woman posted about an incident in which her dog was attacked by an unrestrained dog while out walking. The unrestrained dog attacked without provocation and the woman incurred over $300 in emergency vet bills. (3) On another message board I visit (hiking related), I read a post where a couple were hiking in the Sipsey Wilderness and came upon a tent erected ON the trail (bad form) with a large dog outside it. The dog seemed alright while they circled around the tent and got back on the trail; then it charged the woman. She managed to beat it off with her hiking poles until the owner emerged from the tent to collect the dog. He didn’t even apologize for its behavior or the fact that it was unrestrained.

The two things got me thinking about the social contract and wondering if some people feel they’re exempt from performing according to the behavioral norms society expects from them. . . .

Read the whole thing.

No comments: