According to an article in today's Daily News, dog owners can now get licenses online instead of sending in paper forms. The article says that “just 20 percent of the city's estimated half a million dogs are registered.” But dogs may not be let off-leash unless they are licensed: the off-leash regulations say explicitly that, subject to various limitations we’ve talked about, “properly licensed dogs wearing a license tag and vaccinated against rabies pursuant to the laws of the State of New York and City of New York may be unleashed within a designated park or designated portions of a park between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m” [italics added]. So, we figure there are only two possibilities: (1) only a small minority of New York’s dogs ever are off-leash in the parks—which, if true, would by itself call into question the need for any off-leash policy; or (2) many, and probably most, of the off-leash dogs in the parks are unlicensed, meaning—surprise!—their owners are scofflaws, which would raise the question again of why DOPR officials are declining to enforce the law.
Also, according to this article, the DOPR estimates that NYC has about 500,000 dogs. NYC's population is around 8 million.. According to this Wikipedia article, in 2000 the average household size in NYC was 2.59, so there were more than 3 million households in NYC. Of these, then, fewer than one-sixth own a dog (and some households have more than one). We don’t know yet—we’re trying to find out—what percentage of dog owners bring their dogs to off-leash hours. But you can see why we say that the parks have been hijacked by a small minority of New Yorkers.
Meanwhile, at the forum we blogged on Friday in which a woman complained about being told off for letting her dogs bathe in a playground sprinkler, some fascinating comments. First, one from “rosweed”, who writes:
. . . I have also had confrontations with people in the park about my dog. They’re mostly of the, “you white people and your damn dogs are taking over our park”, “that leash is too long and it’s illegal” . . . My only comment is that people are probably reacting more to the gentrification of the area than to the specifics of what they’re saying. I just smile, don’t say anything and walk away.
Now mind you: this person has every right to take his/her dog to the park. But (1) DOPR rules require, and have required for decades, that the leash be no longer than six feet along; flexi-leashes are illegal, and dog owners who use them—perhaps the majority, from what we’ve seen—are scofflaws; and (2) it’s interesting that we are not the only ones who have observed that we have a serious race—and class—issue here.
Second, more from Bob Marino, engaging in, characteristically, character assassination, calling the person he imagines is the author of this blog—and whom he has never met— “old and fetid”, accusing us of unidentified “lies and distortions”, whining that we “won’t post comments that treat [us] as [we] treat others”. He even identifies us with President Bush, which apparently among Bob's supporters is considered character assassination. This is the same Bob Marino who had to retract lies he published on his website about Juniper Park Civic Association after JPCA threatened to sue him for libel. Of course, he has no evidence of anything he says, but lack of any evidence for the positions he’s paid to espouse has gotten Bob this far, so why not continue?
Bob, to our knowledge, you have not submitted any comments for publication on this blog, so in addition to everything else, your comments about what we won’t print are out of line. What are you afraid of? If you think we’ve published “lies and distortions”, we want hear about just what they are and why they aren’t true, because our goal is 100% accuracy. We’d be happy to publish your comments if they meet our guidelines (although if they’re anything like the comments excerpted above, they will not).
We quite obviously have gotten under your skin, and we are puzzled. We cannot understand why you’d care what we say if, as you (and like-minded anti-leashers) claim, the things we say are ”the rantings of an isolated reactionary.” If so, why not ignore us? You have your great victory. Unleashed dogs are swarming, legally and otherwise, all over the parks, and neither the DOPR nor the NYPD is doing anything to stop them. Are you not satisfied unless, Soviet style, everyone is singing the praises of off-leash in unison? Or are you afraid that your victory is a fragile one, built on statistics that you realize are meaningless, a mantra (“successful 20-year policy”) that is both false and meaningless, misrepresentations to public officials, logic that would get laughed out of court, and the ignorance of a public that just might not remain docile if it were fully informed?
Oh, and thanks, Bob, for linking to us in your comment—you’ve singlehandedly doubled our readership.