Sunday, December 20, 2009

Loose Dogs in the Snow

At around 11 A.M. today, in a walk from Park Circle up West Drive and over to the peninsula, one of our correspondents counted 8 unleashed dogs, including these. Who knows how many were elsewhere in the park. Sure dogs like to play in the snow, but so do the rest of us, and if they do, we can't.

From a second correspondent:
Last night's snow storm made for great sledding conditions in Prospect Park. There were hundreds of little kids sledding in the park. There were also dozens of dog owners allowing their dogs to run around off-leash throughout the park. This first video is a perfect example of the attitude of these people.

Me: "You know offleash in this park is from 9pm to 9am, and it's never along the bridle path or outside of the three main meadows."
Dog owners: "Yes, we know that, but we're not bothering anybody."
Me: "Oh, so the rules are just up to interpretation by the individual people, is that it?"
Woman: "Why don't you mind your own business?"

The problems with their dog "not bothering anybody" is that, first, it is bothering me, and second, they really don't care, and if told it was, they would just come up with another excuse why their dog "needed" to be off-leash. It's simple--the Department of Parks doesn't enforce the existing rules, and the dog owners know it, so they all do as they please.

In this second video, a little kid was sitting in the snow when a stranger's unleashed dog ran over and started jumping on him. The owner began to run towards the dog yelling at it to get off the kid. She then apologized to the kid. I told her dogs are not supposed to be off-leash until 9pm. She pretended that she was unaware of the rules. There is a sign posted with the rules about 20 yards away from where I spoke to her. Also, what if her dog wasn't so friendly and bit the kid on the face?

One wonders whether the little kid's caregiver understood the implications of New York's "one bite" law, and if not how he or she would have reacted had he or she understood them. As we have discussed, under New York's interpretation of this rule the dog owner is immune from civil suit unless the dog has a "vicious propensity" (generally, because the dog has bitten at least once before); and worse, under precedent recently affirmed by the Court of Appeals, the owner may be no worse off even if the dog is illegally off-leash as well. According to this item on the dogbitelaw website,
In the USA this year, there have been 19 canine homicides. Only 4 have been in the states that reject the one-bite rule, while 10 are in the 18 states that continue to enforce it, and 5 have been in the states having mixed dog bite statutes that substantially follow it (i.e., Georgia, Tennessee and New York). Because the one-bite rule says that nobody is civilly responsible the first time that a dog mauls a person, there would appear to be a causal relationship between the one-bite rule and canine homicides.
Tupper Thomas, in response to our query about why a PEP officer told us that unleashed dogs are allowed in the entire park until 9 A.M., says that PEP has given "quite a few tickets this month." We intend to find out just how many. She also said, "I have discussed with them and it is all clear now... and he said he knew that was true and I talked to the supervisor as well who will re-issue to all new PEP officers." But whatever this newbie was told officially, it is absolutely clear that the marching orders, official or otherwise, of PEP and the NYPD, at least in Prospect Park, are to avoid giving summonses whenever possible and to avoid putting themselves in the position where they might have to give summonses. And it is obvious that dog owners fully understand this state of affairs, because having been given both hands and most of both wrists, they continue to seize both arms including the shoulders, without any apparent fear of law enforcement.

1 comment:

Winston Smith said...

That "Yes, we know that, but we're not bothering anybody." excuse is really a pile of poop.

Maybe I should just get a snowmobile or an ATV and have a wild time on the grass in Prospect Park. I don't think I would be bothering anyone.