Following up our June 11, 2008 complaint to 311 about unleashed dogs where they didn’t belong, we wanted you to see how serious the DOPR is about enforcing the law.
SERVICE REQUEST #: 1-1-404777643
CREATED ON: 06/11/2008 5:22:32 PM
REQUEST TYPE: Animal in a Park
DETAIL: Dog Off Leash
INCIDENT BOROUGH: BROOKLYN
STATUS: The agency was unable to respond to this complaint because they allocated resources to other critical services at the time. All complaints are used for future enforcement planning.
NOTES TO CUSTOMER: The SR was moved to an internal Parks mailing system. Pep will follow-up and contact callers that left contact information available.
LAST UPDATED ON: 07/10/2008 11:20:03 AM
NEXT UPDATE DUE: Closed - No Further Updates
Meanwhile, we just ran across this April 26, 2008 video of dog hours on Long Meadow.
And an interesting, but cautionary, legal case that was just decided by New York’s Appellate Division, Second Department, Petrone v. Fernandez. You can read the case here. Melanie Petrone is a postal worker who was injured on the job while escaping an illegally unleashed dog who was chasing her. The dog hadn’t before shown any “vicious propensities”. Petrone sued the owner on the theory that the owner was nonetheless negligent by violating the leash law. Reversing a lower court, the appellate court allowed the case to proceed on that theory. But caution—considerable caution—is in order, for two reasons. First, outside New York City, the appellate division (which is an intermediate appellate court) has held that the owner of a dog that causes injury isn’t negligent unless the dog had previously shown “vicious propensities”, even if the owner has violated a local leash law. New York’s Court of Appeals, which is the highest level court in the state, hasn’t yet ruled on this issue. So even in New York City, if you are bitten by an illegally unleashed dog that hasn’t before shown “vicious propensities” and you sue the owner, you may turn out to be out of luck. Second, the court in the Petrone case limited its decision to when the dog was being aggressive. If you’re running in the park and trip over an illegally unleashed dog, it seems that you’re on your own.
Given the apparent reluctance of both the DOPR and the NYPD to enforce what’s left of the leash law in the parks, perhaps it is time for the legislature or city council to enact legislation that would hold off-leash scofflaws accountable for the damages they and their dogs cause.