Tuesday, May 12, 2009

More from Our Mailbag; Selections from the Brownstoner

From Renee:
I think your movement should become nationwide. Too many dog owners assume that their dogs are "friendly" and that the dogs won't bite. One never knows what would set a dog off to bite a person, just like we don't know what sets people off to kill one another.

I had an encounter in Central Park last year when taking my son to see David Blaine. We were walking back toward 59th St. through the park when we came upon two groups of people with dogs. Both parties looked at us crazy because we (me & my 9yr. old son) told them we were afraid of dogs. Yet their dogs proceeded to run toward us & lunge at us. My son became very scared and I was willing to let the dog bite me to protect my child, but I told the owners if their dogs bite me I was going to call the cops and file suit against them in court. So it's best you & your dog go in another direction!

Not everyone is pet friendly, and furthermore some people are deathly afraid of dogs. It sickens me when I see people in the park, playgrounds or school grounds walking their dogs when children are present or at play.

You are doing a very good thing for those parents (like me) who have children that are afraid of dogs!

Best of Luck my friend!
And that, wholly aside from the damage illegally unleashed dogs do to the park's flora and fauna, is precisely what we're complaining about, what ABC News didn't quite get right and what the comic-book Post got backwards. Many, maybe most dogs are gentle around people and other dogs, and a few dogs trot quietly by their masters' sides no matter what. But some are not. Outsiders can't always tell, and owners either lie or are blind ("My dog wouldn't hurt a flea. You got my dog upset.") Dog owners have 300 acres of Prospect Park (and nearly all of Central Park) in which to run their dogs, legally, before 9 each day. The rest of us ought to be able to avoid encounters with unleashed dogs that could be annoying or outright threatening simply by not walking through "designated areas" during off-leash hours. We can't. Dog owners have imposed themselves, illegally, on everyone else, and the City is doing essentially nothing about it.

From Chickenunderwear:
I just read the blog that was created to "expose" you. Most of the observations in you blog are about dog owners who act outside the law. Why are responsible dog owners so upset with you?
The better question is whether the people who are upset with us are responsible dog owners.

From another correspondent, a comment on the Eyewitness News report that was too long to fit on their site:
Ah, but, they do "just blithely and maliciously" unleash their dogs, and many are proud of it protesting they'll keep it up until they get their way. "Their way" being the repeal of the NYC Leash Law. Imagine a city without laws governing the health and behavior of dogs on our streets and in parks? Imagine parks where dogs "run free" any time and everywhere. The Leash Law is fair and reasonable. Dog owners have joined together to get official dog runs designated (and where the dog owners maintain the runs) without having to be law breakers. It takes organization, dedication, and money. There simply is no excuse for breaking the leash law and for ignoring the rules governing dogs in our city parks. It is a mindset of people who just want what they want and the rest of us be d*mned. Example, in Carl Schurz Park in Manhattan, there are TWO official dog runs, one big one for large dogs, and one small one for dogs under 20 pounds. The rule is, where there are designated dog runs provided, that park is not participating in the "9pm to 9am courtesy hours." And yet, loads of people unleash their dogs everywhere, on the lawns,on the promenade all the way along the East River, and, become hostile and nasty if asked to leash their dogs. Asked why they aren't using the dog run, their excuses are usually "it smells in there" "the dogs aren't friendly in there." There is NO satisfy this anti-leash segment of the population...they simply don't obey the law no matter what they are given. If I were Commissioner Benepe, I would repeal the "coutesy hours" and get really tough about issuing summonses. This group hasn't earned any further consideration from the city or the parks department. And it isn't just in Prospect Park. Central Park is such an unpleasant place to be a dog owner--a legal dog owner with a dog on a six foot leash that is. And it is spilling out onto the city streets. You'll hear an owner of an unleashed dog on the city street say "he's a friendly dog." Ok, that makes sense. Friendly dogs can break the law. So, if I'm friendly about shop-lifting, that means I can break that law. It is such nonsense. And don't get me started on the rhetoric of off-leash dog owners--those of us who respect the law are NOT dog-haters. We're dog owners, who love dogs AND love our parks and city.

The issue isn't about who loves dogs more, it is about the city and park department's failure to enforce laws that are meant to protect people and our precious parks. It's a shame that people have to spend their own time and efforts gathering evidence of all the offenses and making sufficient noise to get laws enforced.

* * *

That open sewer, the Brownstoner, has a lengthening thread on the New York Enquirer story. Here are two throughtful comments:

From Saulinbrooklyn:
I was walking in Fort Greene park last week with my wife during off-leash hours. She had our infant son in a pouch and our dog on the leash. I was pushing a stroller with my daughter. We just bought some bagels and we were each (except for my son and dog) carrying a piece of bagel. Out A large dog (100 lbs or so) came running over, jumped in the air, and chomped the bagel out of my wife's hand, which was bleeding slightly as a result. Before I realized what happened, the dog bit my hand as well, and was circling, as we had a bag with two more bagels under the stroller. Along the came the dog's owner, appologizing, but walking very casually and not bothering to put her coffee down to try to control her dog. When I told her grab the dog, her response was .... "you really shouldnt be eating in the park because there are dogs around." This was about 30 yards, mind you, from the farmers market. I told her she was nuts, and that if she couldnt control her dog, it should be leashed. She told me that its a dog, which she explained was an animal, and she had no responsibility because she couldnt control it. I think this is ridiculas. I have no problem with off the leash hours, but if you cant stop your dog from biting people, your dog should be leashed. Can anyone really disagree with this?
From bxgrl:
first of all, the guy was attacked by a dog so it's understandable that he feels this way. Secondly- as anyone who has every read the NY Post and knows it is a junk paper that practices witchunting, not journalism- the article is more on the order of a character assassination, not reportage. They call him a vigilante in the headline, barely mention the fact he was attacked, and pretty much slanted the article to make him sound like an irresponsible nut, instead of the dog owners who don't respect the law or other people. He carries pepper spray to protect himself- because he was attacked.

I love dogs, I think dog runs are a great idea- but I don't feel dog owners are entitled to them, and if a dog owner is irresponsible enough to disobey the law, they shouldn't have a dog. (I also think parents who can't control their kids need to get parenting classes too but that's another story).
As the Enquirer--er, the Post--intended, very few of the commenters appear to understand, or care, that we view pepper spray as an absolute last resort to ward off an attack. We're glad bxgrl got it.

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