In New York City, years of restive debate were mostly quieted in 2007, when the Parks and Recreation Department announced that dogs would be allowed off leash in many large parks 9 p.m. to 9 a.m., making official what had been an accepted practice. Adrian Benepe, the parks commissioner, said that dog owners made parks safer by their presence “day in and day out, despite the weather.”
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In New York City, Mr. Benepe subscribes to the theory that dogs are less aggressive when they are allowed to socialize and exercise. Indeed, the number of dog bites reported in the city has plummeted in recent years, as the parks department has built dozens of dog runs and allowed dogs off leash. Still, he said, “the right to have your dog off leash doesn’t confer the right to inconvenience and injure other people.”
Bob Marino, president of the New York Council of Dog Owner Groups, an umbrella organization, praised the city’s decision to formalize the off-leash hours. “Under this administration, the whole idea is ‘Let’s work together and talk,’ ” he said. “Is it perfect? No. But it allows a city with limited land and a lot of people and a lot of dogs to coexist.”
The debate has hardly been "quieted", the practice was previously not "accepted" in Central Park, dog owners aren't around when the weather turns foul, --as we've pointed out--the apparent "safety" is that there are fewer people of color around during off-hours who are afraid of dogs, and--as we pointed out the other day--since dogs have officially been allowed off-leash, dog bites have increased. (The reporter doesn't cite any statistics.)
And she quotes the other side only in reference to the Connecticut preserve. This other side is telling:
But then there are the leash proponents, like Judith Waters, who said that, because of the moratorium, she could now return safely to the preserve.The reporter doesn't mention the destruction of park habitat, the danger to park wildlife, and that people are getting hurt by the City's off-leach policy.
“I have been jumped on, had my clothes muddied, torn and slobbered on,” Mrs. Waters, a dog owner herself, wrote to Mr. Brant in an e-mail. “I’ve been intimidated, barked and growled at, and I have been scolded for not understanding that dogs have a right to these trails.”
Linda Giers of Norwalk said she had stopped going to the preserve since she once went around a corner to find two German shepherds off leash. “The owner was nowhere to be seen,” she said. “It was intimidating.”
Hat-tips to Christina and Geoffrey.