Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Off-Leash Increases Dog Bites; Backlash in Denver; DOPR FOILed

Yesterday's Daily News reported "Housing Authority's dog policies have no bite - suit: Agency sued after vicious pit bull attack". Apparently, this is not the first such suit, but the Authority's spokesman would not comment on their outcome--presumably because they were settled, with the Authority paying. Our correspondent asks, "So when someone gets mauled in a park by an off-leash pit bull can they sue the City based on their admittance that these dogs are dangerous?" But there's another point here. The article went on to note that
[t]he authority also is outlawing certain breeds, including pit bulls, Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers, German shepherds and English mastiffs, except for those already registered. They say they're doing this "because of an increase in biting incidents."
Now, according to propaganda of the anti-leash lobby parroted by its mouthpiece, the DOPR, in their pamphlet "Dogs in Parks--A Guide" to which we've linked in our sidebar, the DOPR's courtesy hours "policy" that preceded the 2007 change to the City's leash law reduced the number of dog bites. Of course that's nonsense: the DOPR has no data to back it up, and even if the DOPR did, where's the cause and effect? But if it's true, then it must be equally true that the formal, codified off-leash policy is the cause of the increase in dog bites.

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Denver has decided to enforce its leash law by ticketing off-leash scofflaws, and just like they do here at the first scent of enforcement, the anti-leash folks are complaining. As the first comment said,
If I understand correctly, your chief complaint is that people will begin to receive tickets for allowing their dogs to play off leash in parks that have no off leash areas and are not designated for that behavior. As a responsible dog owner and a true lover of dogs, I do feel strongly about the topic of dog and human safety. I don't want to stir up drama, but I want to express how frustrating it is for me as a responsible dog owner to take my dog to a park or out in the community and have dogs off leash in areas that prohibit this behavior.
Read the whole thing.

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We've added in our sidebar links to two documents we obtained under New York's Freedom of Information Law. One is a list of responses to complaints to 311 about unleashed dogs in the parks, all of which (311 operators have told us) are routed to the DOPR. As you can see, the vast majority of them, particularly in 2007 and 2008, resulted in no action. The other is a list of off-leash summonses issued by the DOPR. Enforcement is obviously spotty, but what leaps out at the viewer is that it's virtually nonexistent outside Manhattan. And we'd guess that the vast majority of summonses issued in Manhattan are in semi-public enclaves such as Battery Park City where the PEP agents are apparently told to do their jobs. See, for example, this 2005 report.

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