Thursday, January 1, 2009

Coffee Park Resultions; CIty Council Resolution: Our Mailbag

According to this item at Gowanus Lounge, unleashed dogs are now permitted during dog hours in Red Hook's Coffee Park:

1. All dogs must be vaccinated and registered with the city
2. All dogs must be under voice command, meaning they will come when the owner calls
3. No aggression toward humans or other dogs will be tolerated
4. If a police officer or parks representative requests that the dogs be put on leash, owners must comply
5. Dogs are *not* allowed to harass other park users
6. Dogs are *not* allowed in the basketball courts or the playground areas. They are only to be in the grassy area of the park
7. Generally, the dogs are to be off-leash only in the quadrant located at Richards and Verona Streets. This is not an official rule, as we want flexibility to move during barbecuing season or for other events. But dog owners have agreed to keep their group activities generally within this location so that other users can plan their activities
8. From 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., there are to be no dogs off the leash. Police officers will be ticketing heavily if they see dogs off leash during the day
9. Dogs are not to dig in the flower beds or otherwise disturb the flora of the park
10. Owners *must* clean up after their dogs. We will all be keeping a watchful eye in order to keep our park clean for everyone
[Italics ours.] Yeh right. And note that the community board voted to allow this. Juniper Park Civic Association earlier was told that its community board could have no role in setting off-leash policy because that somehow violated the separation of powers.

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A resolution has been introduced in the NYC Council that would require owners of "dangerous dogs"--presumably, dogs that have already bitten someone once--to obtain liability insurance for personal injury or death of "any person" resulting from the dog's attack. You can read it


We wonder exactly what prompted its introduction, but it has no teeth because it merely asks the State Legislature to pass such a law; apparently, the Council has no power to do so. Even if there were such a law, you can count on New York City not to enforce it, just as they have not enforced the law requiring any unleashed dogs in the parks to be licensed.

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From our mailbag:

Happy Holidays,

I just ran across your blog and got lost reading past entries. I have to ask, why is this issue so important to you? Where you attacked by dogs as a child?

On a personal note, my rottweiler and boxer have been responsible for stopping two robberies in another city park.


Happy Holidays to you, Bill, and welcome to the growing list of CREDO readers, most of whom seem to disagree with nearly everything we say. To answer your second question first, it's dangerous to try to psychoanalyze people you've never met, particularly when you don't even know who they are, but suffice it to say that your guess is way off-base: most or all of us like dogs, and some of us even have them as pets. What we have problems with is dog owners. To answer your first question, here are just a few reasons:

1. Unleashed dogs damage parks, among other things by destroying landscaping, harrassing wildlife, and digging holes. All taxpayers must pay for this damage, but meanwhile the holes cause injury to other park users or make the areas they're in unusable for other park activities. The City knows this very well, but has chosen to ignore it.

2. The presence of unleashed dogs makes the areas of the park they're in unusable for many activities, including sports, nature study, or a quiet walk. To give one example, we can't go bidwatching in broad swaths of the park during the best time of day to do that. To give another, we can't walk our leashed dogs in the park during dog hours becaue they are continually approached by unleashed dogs who are "just trying to be friendly." It would be bad enough if the dogs were confined to the areas they are allowed to be in. But they are not: as a practical matter, during dog hours--and, as we've documented, even not during dog hours--unleashed dogs are all over the place, and the City does nothing to stop it.

3. The reasons the City has given for allowing unleashed dogs are bogus. We, as educated citizens, don't like being lied to and treated like dolts.

4. There is a strong undercurrent of racism in the off-leash policy; it seems to us that it is in large part an effort to reduce the number of certain racial and ethnics groups in the parks. We we find this particularly appalling.
I am sure you and your dog are brave and commend you both on your civic awareness. But that's no reason that your dogs should be permitted to be loose in unenclosed areas in the parks.

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Loose dog reports from Prospect Park, in reverse order:

Yesterday, a bumper crop. 9:45 A.M., two pomeranians off the north meadow. Around 9:15, 3 by the upper pool, 37 near the tennis house. A little after 9, 50 dogs were still around the long meadow. Earlier, a mixed black and white mongrel was in the Sullivan woods, where loose dogs are never allowed. And Marcia was spotted at Sullivan hill with her two loose dogs. There were PEP agents in the park, but apparently they don't go on duty until long enough after 9 A.M. that they can safely avoid ticketing these people.

On Tuesday morning, around 7:45 one owner was using the grassy area at the intersection of Wellhouse Drive and the east drive as his private off-leash area, another unleashed dog was on lookout hill, and a third was on Wellhouse Drive.

And on Saturday around 4 P.M., there were 5 unleashed dogs on the Nethermead.

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