Saturday, September 6, 2008

Off-Leash Scofflaws in Prospect Park--Another View

Every time I visit Prospect Park I am guaranteed to run into an off leash dog in an area or at a time where it isn't supposed to be -- usually within five minutes of entering the park at Grand Army Plaza. As far as I'm concerned the park is lawless and the unleashed dogs are everywhere I look. Just the other day around 7pm I had to yell at some kids near Grove Hill who were about to loose two huge pit bulls on the world! In fact, this encounter happened on the very same day the Staten Island victim of an attack by two loose pit bulls died from his injuries. I yelled this at the dumb kids and said I wasn't interested in lawsuits or vet bills, which is why I always keep my pit bull, who was with me, on a leash. The teens kept their dogs leashed until I had walked past them with my dog, but they let their dogs loose onto the Long Meadow as soon as I had gone down the path.

If the proponents of off leash activity would just admit to the prevalence of rule breakers, that give the impression that there are no rules in Prospect Park, then perhaps something could be done to address the problem. The fact that the FIDO folks are not happy with winning 12 hrs per day and huge swathes of territory for their intrusive activities, and are yet begging for even more concessions (afternoon Nethermead privileges) from their indulgent parents, Tupper and Adrian, does not speak well of their seriousness about respecting the rules that are currently in place. It appears that FIDO will not likely rest until they get the entire park designated as an off leash area 24/7, and DOPR is apparently behind them 100%.

Off leash dogs should be placed within a fenced area out of respect for other park users, and the whole activity better organized so that NO dog would be allowed off leash without showing proof of license and vaccination, and passing a real world voice recall obedience test with distractions in place. Perhaps the beneficiaries of the off leash policy could set up boundary fences and charge membership fees to sponsor the daily activity of erecting and dismantling the fences. Dogs could be identified with permit and training tags, similar to the Boulder Colorado system (which even now is hotly debated and despised by non dog owners dealing with scofflaw dog owners while trying to hike, bike etc in Boulder's open space areas). Any dog owner discovered running his dog off leash OUTSIDE the fenced areas would be subject to ticketing and fines. As things stand now the rules are unenforceable by the current PEP manpower levels and everyone else using the park is forced to deal with the consequences.

- Datnioides, owner of Pashelle, the pit bull.

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