Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Unilateral Extension of Prospect Park Dog Hours?--An Update; Dog Bites in NYC

We received the following in response to our complaint that 311 and PEP were sayiing that during the winter off-leash began in Prospect Park at 5:00 P.M.:
Thank you for alerting us to the 311 misinformation regarding off –leash hours in Prospect Park. We appreciate your concern.

I have spoken to Josephine Pittari, Chief of Operations for Prospect Park, who reports that years ago, we did have summer and winter hours, which then changed when the city-wide law went into effect. At that time, all of our signage changed reflecting the new hours. We were unaware that 311 hadn’t updated this information. The Parks Department liaison has since asked them to change the information within the system.

Thank you for bringing this matter to out attention and for your interest in Prospect Park.


Christina Vecchione

Secretary to the Administrator

To which we responded:
Thank you for your response and for asking 311 to change the information in their system. However, I believe you are mistaken about the cause, and the nature, of the problem.

My colleagues and I have been monitoring the steadily-deteriorating situation on the Nethermead--as well as PEP's and NYPD's complete refusal to enforce the leash law in Prospect Park before, during, and after official or unofficial off-leash hours-- for years. We are well aware that before the official off-leash hours came into effect, dogs were unofficially allowed off-leash ON THE NETHERMEAD ONLY after 5:00 P.M. during the winter months. At no point was there an unofficial policy allowing dogs off-leash on either the Long Meadow or the Peninsula after 5:00 P.M., so there is no way that 311 had this information in their system all along. Moreover, as my email to Ms. Lloyd indicated, the misinformation is not confined to 311; PEP officers recently told a colleague of mine the same thing.

Indeed, while we have complained regularly to 311 and PEP since off-leash became official about dogs on the Nethermead after 5 P.M. year-round (not just during the winter months), this is the first time we have been told that PEP and 311 thought it was permissible on the Nethermead, let alone park-wide. The problem is not that 311--and PEP-- did not update its information. The problem is that some time recently, some New York City employee decided unilaterally to change the rules and misinform both 311 and PEP officers. I do not know who that person is but I will be very interested in finding out.


* * *
It seems there are pit bulls roaming the streets of Borough Park and Midwood; see the reports here and Of greater interest to us is the following from the AM New York report:
New York City residents reported more than 3,000 dog bites from January to October 2011, with pit bulls and pit-bull mixes making up more than a quarter of the complaints, according to the health department.

The number of 311 complaints of unleashed dogs doubled in the past five years, and packs of stray dogs have been reported elsewhere, including pit bulls stalking Citi Field last summer
So let's see. Legal off-leash in public parks has now resulted in a big increase in complaints about dogs being off-leash; in other words, give dog owners a finger and they take your hand. What's more, according to a New York Post report about a year ago, in all of 2010 there were 3609 dog bites reported, itself a recent record high. 3000 dog bites in 10 months projects to 3600 for a full year. So official off-leash has resulted in an increase, not a decrease, in dog bites.

Hat-tip to Christina.

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