Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A letter to Captain Scott Shanley

Monday, September 25, 2006

SUBJECT: Leash Law Enforcement

Captain Scott Shanley
Commander, 104th Precinct
New York City Police Department
64-02 Catalpa Avenue
Ridgewood, NY 11385-5257

Dear Captain Shanley,

The Juniper Park Civic Association receives reports from area residents complaining about dog attacks in and around the public parks within the 104th Precinct.

What concerns us is the lack of enforcement of the New York City “Leash Law.” According to Section 161.05 of the New York City Health Code, a dog has to be kept on a six-foot long leash 24/7 when out in public. It reads - “A person who owns, possesses or controls a dog shall not permit it to be in any public place or in any open or unfenced area abutting on a public place unless the dog is effectively restrained by a leash or chain not more than six feet long.”

Currently there is an attempt underway to deal with the legal dispute regarding unleashed dogs in parks from 9PM until 9AM.

You explained that officers have discretion to issue summonses and that one element of that discretion is that the officers witness the attack.

In the case of Lisa Ludwigson, who spoke to you at the COP104 meeting on Thursday evening, Sept 21, describing the pit bull attack on her mini Pincher, the responding officer did not issue any summons, despite the fact that the pit bull was still unleashed, with the owner holding the dog’s collar. As far as the JPCA is concerned and what we understand as grounds for enforcement of the “Leash Law,” there was clearly sufficient evidence to issue a summons.

In the case of Matt Connolly of Maspeth, he was attacked along with his small dog just after 9am when a Rottweiler ran from Principe Park on to the public sidewalk. Both Matt and his dog were severely injured. Police from the 104th responded, witnessed the unleashed dog on public property outside the park after the so-called “relaxed leash courtesy hours” and issued no summons.

Gary Colter, whose two small children were surrounded three times recently by large unleashed dogs in Juniper Park while on their way to Our Lady of Hope school in the morning reports that no summonses were issued in these cases either. At the COP104 meeting, I reported to you about the first two attacks. Today, you were notified by fax of the third attack, which occurred this morning (just after 8AM, as in each incident – Gary crosses the park from the south, starting at 77th Street, walks with his kids along the walkway between the ball fields, to emerge on the north side of the park).

We believe that each of these incidents warranted a summons from the police.

The 104th Precinct must receive far more dog attack complaints then the JPCA does, so we are intervening for only a fraction of the victims.

JPCA understands the concept of officer discretion. However, we wonder if the failure to issue summonses is a result of a police misunderstanding of the “relaxed leash” edict from NYC Parks. That would be understandable because even Judge Peter Kelly was confused when the NYC Parks Department attorney, Paula Van Meter, attempted an explanation in Queens Supreme Court on August 29th. He was clear about one fact, the edict does not and cannot extend to other NYC enforcement agencies, including police. That means the NYC police can issue summonses for unleashed dogs in NYC parks whenever the unleashed dogs are observed. In the case of Gary Colter and his two small boys struggling to get across Juniper Park in the early morning hours, clearly a summons should have been issued.

The unleashed dog problem is up to its neck in controversy, no question. The Parks Department policy seemingly has the support of the Mayor although he is silent on the issue. However one thing is clear, people have the right to traverse any city park without the hassle and danger of an attack from a large, unleashed dog.

Since the JPCA hears daily from people who are fearful of the unleashed dogs, we believe that these people have the right to use the parks and surrounding areas, which means the public sidewalks immediately adjacent to the parks as well, without being fearful for their safety.

There is NYC Health Code 161.05 to protect these people and you as the Commanding Officer of the 104th Pct. have the responsibility to enforce that law.


Robert E. Doocey
Juniper Park Civic Association Member
Chairman, JPCA Public Safety Committee

New York Times Letter to the Editor from San Anselmo, CA Commissioner of Parks

To the Editor:

Re "Loyal, Two-Legged Lobbyists Raise Banner of Dog Rights" (front page, March 25): When I was a commissioner of parks and recreation in San Anselmo, Calif., I witnessed firsthand the arrogance of dog owners and the depth of their denial regarding the impact dogs have on the rest of the population.

Before acquiring a dog, people must consider whether they have the means to support their pet's physical needs without looking to public agencies and lands to solve their problems. No one objects to the purchase, construction and maintenance of private dog parks, but I have never seen this option pursued.

It is inevitable that when off-leash dogs are introduced to a public area, use of the space by people diminishes. Many people, with good reason, are wary of dogs. Our local, state and national parks were developed for use by people. Anything that precludes that use or enjoyment should be discouraged, if not banned.

Mark Adamsbaum
San Anselmo, CA March 25, 2001

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Now, for something completely different

In addition to the off-leash advocates disseminating misleading and inaccurate information, they frequently paint me (or anyone who demands that dogs be leashed) as a dog hater. I told my mother that and she laughed. I've mentioned in previous posts that I come from a large, "dog family" and that I love dogs. I just do not want some strange dog forced on me. To make a point my wife suggested that I post some images of the four-legged family members, past and present. So here we go:

This is my mother with her dog and a "passenger". If I told you the year my mother would disown me.

Here's one of my younger sisters with our first dog, Cindy. I think this was about 1961.

Here's the same sister with her new baby. This was taken in July.

This is my sister-in-law with my father's dog, Humphrey. He liked to sit in the co-pilot's seat when dad went flying.

My wife and nephew watching a movie with Luigi. Luigi is nearly blind but manages quit well by sense of smell.

Arielle and Lassie.

Jager was a very sweet dog and passed away recently.

The pool patrol; Dayton, Tanner and Maggie.

Jesse, the newest family member, out for a spin with mom & Willie.

I'm still looking for photos of Beaucoup, Puppy and BG.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Apology to the police

I think I owe an apology to NYC police officers. In my posting about Lisa Ludwigson and her leashed dog being attacked by an unleashed dog I inferred that the local precinct wasn't doing their job. I have since done some research and posted a question on a police officer discussion forum. Ms. Ludwigson was, in fact, given the correct information:

1 - In almost all cases if a dog bites a dog it is a civil matter.
2 - "Summonsable offenses are only enforceable if occuring in the presence of an officer, and also affect by discretion."

If, when the police arrived, the dog was under the control of its owner, they could not give him a ticket. For all intents and purposes, legal systems consider dogs as property. If you have a witness and the dog owner's name & address I recommend suing him in civil court.

How to file a civil lawsuit

City Government Links

Here are some very useful New York City links.

Find Your Police Precinct and Community Board

Precinct Contact Information

Email the Police Commissioner

Community Board Contact Information

Police Discussion Forums

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Not an isolated incident

I recently posted a story about a woman who's dog was attacked by an unleashed dog in Queens. Her attempt at registering a complaint or filing a report with the local precinct was thwarted by several disinterested city officials. While searching a few online forums I came across an almost identical incident and experience. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to find out that it happened in New York City:

Read "My dog was attacked by 5 dogs"

Most of the responses were supportive and offered some suggestions that I will eventually post here.

Sit means Sit

I just came across a really informative website named "Sit means Sit". It is a company that offers "dog training classes, videos, and dog training information". The following link is to their radio show archives. I highly recommend listening to the interview with lawyer Ken Phillips. He is considered the world's top authority on dog bite law. His website, DogBiteLaw, is listing in the links section of this blog.

Sit Means Sit Dog Hour

A New York Daily News article

Here's a really good "on-leash" article in the New York Daily News:

Let dogs stay unleashed in city parks? No.

The author writes that there were "just" 86 dog bites in the city parks last year according to off-leash supporters. That's an interesting number as the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene recorded 5,385 bite reports for 2005.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Another point of view...for a change

You may have noticed that the "unleashed" advocates have been trying to push their agenda through several local newspaper articles. The newspaper "The New York Sun" has a couple of interesting pieces from the other side of the fence (so to speak). In the opinion piece "Don't Let's Go to the Dogs" by Daniel Freedman, the author writes:

"A man's best friend? Certainly not mine. Yet after living in New York for more than a year now I'm left with the feeling that the friendship is being forced upon me."

Read the entire article here:

Don't Let's Go to the Dogs

A letter to the editor in response to the article is also worth reading:

"Don't Let's Go to the Dogs" response

Monday, September 18, 2006

Two more reason's why the parks commissioner is insane

There are several "professional" dogwalkers that use Prospect Park as their doggy playground. I'm not sure what it takes to become a "professional". I suspect just a flyer with the word "professional" on it. Anyway, these people come into Prospect Park twice a day with multiple dogs then just unleash them in the fields. Two people, in particular, regularly come into the park at the 16th Street entrance with over 20 dogs between them. If that weren't bad enough, the dogs end up well outside of the Nethermead Meadow. Here are some photos from today. Are these dogs really under control by any definition of the word?

(Click images to enlarge)

The second reason is the fact that he thinks it is perfectly acceptable to let dogs romp unleashed after sunset. For those not familiar with Prospect Park, the fields and meadows are not like football fields. They are dotted with islands of trees, bordered by woodlands and, oh yeah, there are not bright lights. Unless dog crap glows in the dark I have no idea how it is getting picked up. Oh, that's right, it isn't.

This is a photo of the north end of the Long Meadow just before sunrise. The dim lights that ring the meadow are the only lights on any of the fields and meadows.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Off-leash victim gets the runaround

I recently posted a story about Lisa Ludwigson of Maspeth and how her dog was attacked by an unleashed dog. Her attempt at getting cooperation from the local police precinct has been met with a lack of professionalism and downright rudeness. Read the complete article in the Queens Tribune:

Off-Leash Pit Bull Attacks Mini Pin

Dogs and crime statistics

Off-leash dog advocacy groups frequently credit the reduction of crime in New York City with the presence of unleashed dogs in parks. It's always sounded like a ridiculous claim and I'm not really sure where they get their statistics. It might have been taken from an "New York Daily News" article (Clem Richardson Thursday, September 29th, 2005) where Prospect Park Alliance president Tupper Thomas actually made that claim. The problem is, there is absolutely no basis in fact for that conclusion.

In 2001 George L. Kelling (Senior Fellow, The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research) and William H. Sousa, Jr. (Director of Evaluation, Police Institute, Rutgers University) conducted a study that evaluated the sharp decline in crime in New York City beginning in 1990. Ms. Thomas contends that crime declined in the 1980's. She should just stick to what she knows.

Kelling and Sousa concluded that:

- “Broken windows” policing is significantly and consistently linked to declines in violent crime.

- Over 60,000 violent crimes were prevented from 1989 to 1998 because of “broken windows” policing.

- Changes in the number of young men of high-school age were not associated with a decline in violent crime.

- Decreasing use of crack cocaine was also not associated with a decline in violence.

- Other changes in police tactics and strategy may also be responsible for some of the City’s drop in crime. Case studies conducted in six City police precincts in 2000 show that precinct commanders often use “Compstat” technology to identify when specific types of crime, such as robberies or burglaries, become unusually serious problems. Incidences of such crimes often fell after the commanders employed specifically devised tactics to combat the identified problem.

- As implemented by the NYPD, “broken windows” policing is not the rote and mindless “zero tolerance” approach that critics often contend it is. Case studies show that police vary their approach to quality-of-life crimes, from citation and arrest on one extreme to warnings and reminders on the other, depending upon the circumstances of the offense.

Not surprising, no where is it mentioned that unleashed dogs played any role in New York City's crime reduction. You can read a research report by the U. S. Department of Justice here (PDF file):

-Patrick Langan Report-


I went back and read the report more closely and found that there was actually a slight decline in the mid to late 1980's. That was for automobile theft and burglary. Yup, no doubt, those unleased dogs in the parks really did the job.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Writing letters

Here are some suggestions for your letters. These NYC publications may be open to printing your op-ed piece:

Click here to e-mail AM New York

Click here to e-mail Metro

Click here to e-mail New York Daily News

Click here to e-mail New York Post

Click here to e-mail Newsday

Here's the link for finding your local city council person plus you can send them an e-mail:

-Click here to find your city council person-

Your stories

If you, your dog or anyone you know has had a bad experience in a city park because of an unleashed dog, send me your stories and I'll post them here:

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Time Out New York and ethics

To the editor,

I am writing to you regarding the recently posted reader's opinion poll on the online version of your magazine. In the section "Out There", poll 570 asks the following:

A controversy in a Queens Park has the New York dog world barking. Should off-leash hours in parks be curbed citywide?

a. Yes, dogs should be leashed at all times in city parks.

b. No, it's vital for dogs to have some time to run wild.

The overwhelming number of respondents (81%) chose "b. No, it's vital for dogs to have some time to run wild".

I take issue with the poll and your attempt at manipulating the outcome. First, the lawsuit and proponents for enforcing the health code's leash law never said that they were against dog runs. In fact, the opposite is true. The controversy is whether dogs should be allowed to run off their leash in an unenclosed public space rather than a fenced dog run. Advocacy groups such as "NYC Dogs" do not want to be good neighbors, they want the right to allow their pets to race around city parks, urinating and defecating anywhere they want, and at any time. These people do not want the responsibility of keeping a dog run well maintained, which is what the city requires of community dog runs. Instead, we the tax paying residents of New York City get to foot the bill to repair any damage that unleashed dogs cause to our parks, park patrons and other dogs.

The premise of your question is that there is only one alternative to allowing dogs off leash in the parks. What about enclosed dog runs? For people who are following this issue closely the poll appears to have been created by an off leash advocate who used the magazine to further his or her cause. In addition, all of the dog owner's forums and websites had given links to the "Out There" webpage and urged their constituents to check off answer "b". Your opinion poll is hardly designed to give a very scientific or accurate perspective of your readership.

With a modicum of creativity and honesty you could have written questions that would elicit an unbiased result. For example:

a. Yes, dogs should only be allowed to be unleashed in enclosed dog runs

b. No, dogs should be allowed to run around city parks without their leash

Your magazine took a perfectly legitimate question then weighted the answers to skew the outcome. The appearance is that your are trying to influence the city's decision-making process. Do you truly believe that the majority of New Yorkers really think that it's perfectly acceptable for dogs to "run wild" in public places? I seriously doubt it.

If you'd like to send a letter to the editors of "Time Out New York" click below:

Time Out New York

Another response to Dana Rubinstein

I don't expect that "The Brooklyn Papers" will ever correct the fallacious article "Dogs Win!". Here is another letter that was sent to writer Dana Rubinstein regarding her bit of fantasy:

You failed to mention in your article how the wonderful off leash hours in our parks exclude people who are afraid of dogs, allergic to dogs, or wary of dogs (with good reason). Oddly enough, FIDO's own website states that .. many [park workers] are afraid of dogs, so we should all make an effort to keep our dogs away from them at all times. Even FIDO admits that the off leash dogs make some people uncomfortable!

I don't know how so many dogs that are poorly trained to recall can be made to "keep away" from anyone. FIDO remains wilfully blind to the fact that park workers are not the only people who don't enjoy being charged, sniffed, knocked down, or otherwise harassed by uncontrolled dogs. The only way FIDO can be sure of keeping "our dogs" away from park workers and others who do not want to deal with them is to build a fenced dog run (or several) in Prospect Park. The fact is, they just don't want to give up their exclusive domain, the beautiful spacious meadows which should be open for use by all people at all times, not just a certain set of "dog lovers" who enjoy this unique form of "doggie welfare".

The writer is a dog owner who lives one block from Prospect Park.

Kimberly Edwin

Brooklyn, NY

Monday, September 11, 2006

More on dog attacks

Pit Bull Attack in Juniper Valley Park

(Middle Village, NY September 6) New York City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe has an "unofficial" policy of allowing dog owners to walk their dogs off-leash in NYC Parks from 9pm to 9am. The unwritten policy has been challenged in the courts by the Juniper Park Civic Association.

At about 11pm on Wednesday, September 6, 2006, Lisa Ludwigson of Maspeth and her fiancé, Darwin, were walking their dogs, Max and Harley, two mini pins (pinschers) on leashes on a path in Juniper Valley Park, in the Parks' Department newly created designated dog walking area. At about 11pm an unleashed pit bull charged the dogs and picked up Max in his mouth dragging and shaking the small dog. Darwin attempted to remove Max from the pit bull's mouth when the owner ran up to get his dog. The pit bull dropped Max to the ground. Max was bleeding from several puncture wounds.

The owner of the pit bull attempted to leave the park. Both Darwin and Lisa insisted that the owner remain or they would follow him home. The police were called and arrived in about 20 minutes but took no report saying it was a civil case. According to Lisa, when the police arrived the owner was holding his dog by the collar (with no leash attached) yet no summons was issued.

Max was rushed to Elmhurst Animal Hospital on Queens Boulevard. The small dog suffered multiple bites, scratches, puncture marks on his back and shoulder. Staples were used by the vet to close several puncture wounds. Max also suffered scrapes to his body, face, legs and paws as a result of the pit bull lifting up the small dog and shaking him along the ground.

Max is swollen, still bleeding from deep puncture wounds but is expected to survive. He is on oral pain killers and antibiotics. Total vet bill: $494.00 and counting.

According to Ms. Ludwigson, the pit bull's owner, a resident of Jamaica, Queens, said that the pit bull was a good dog and never attacked anyone. Everyday leashed dogs are attacked by unleashed dogs in NYC Parks yet no reports are taken by the police unless a human being is bitten. Ms. Ludwigson said that if she saw the pit bull charging she would have picked up her small dog. Fortunately she didn’t have time to pick up her dog since the pit bull most likely would have attacked her.

On June 8, 2006 at about 9:10am, a similar incident occurred in Principe Park in Maspeth. Matt Connolly, 64, was walking his leashed Shih Tzu dog on a leash outside the park (on Maurice Avenue) when an unleashed Rottweiler bolted from the park toward Mr. Connolly. He attempted to protect his dog and picked it up. The Rottweiler knocked them both to the ground and proceeded to maul both Connolly and his dog. Mr. Connolly’s arm was shredded and his dog seriously injured.

Because of Commissioner Benepe’s dangerous edict more attacks both on park users and other dogs will occur. He is putting everyone in harm’s way by giving into a very small citywide contingent of unleashed dog advocates.

This topic and others will be discussed at the Juniper Park Civic Association Town Meeting on Thursday, September 21st, 7;45pm at Our Lady of Hope School Auditorium. Eliot Avenue & 71st Street, Middle Village. The first part of the meeting, Captain Shanley, Commander of the 104th Precinct will be present to report to the community and answer questions.

For more information please call 718-651-5865.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Pit Bull Attack in Juniper Valley Park

I just received the following information:

A Maspeth woman, Lisa Ludwigson, was walking her dog, a miniature pinscher, on a leash in Juniper Valley Park at 11pm on Wednesday night (Sept. 6th).

An unleashed pit-bull came running from nowhere and attacked Lisa's dog but not before inflicting several bite wounds on the small dog. Luckily Lisa's fiancé helped beat back the pit-bull but not before the little dog was seriously hurt.

The pit-bull's owner attempted to leave but Lisa and her fiancé threatened to follow him home. They called the police, who obviously did nothing even though when the cops arrived the pit-bull's owner was holding the dog by the collar, with no leash. No summons.

The veterinarian bill came to $500. Lisa is supplying me with photos and will write a letter to editor for newspapers.

My friend Karen's late mini-pin, "Moe", was once grabbed by a German Shepherd in Prospect Park and tossed around like a toy. Luckily, Moe came away more emotionally tramatized than physically. Because of that incident she would only bring Moe to the park during the non-offleash hours...and she would let Moe run unleashed.

Dana Rubinstein is a liar

"The Brooklyn Papers" a small, community-based newspaper, just printed a story entitled "Dogs win! Off-leash hours survive". The author, Dana Rubinstein, is either another example of a journalist making up facts to suit a hidden agenda or she is just an outright liar. Here is a link to the story:

-Dogs win!-

I had supplied her with a lot of information for the article. She didn't use any of it.

Here is a letter to her from Bob Holden:

"Dear Dana,

Why did you write this article like the "off-leash courtesy" is a done deal? Many don't believe the city can or even will do this. The way the article is written it appears nobody has anything to say. That's totally wrong and grossly misleading.

The headline and subhead are misleading too. The off-leash hours didn't survive. Who's giving you this info?

Parks attorney, Paula Van Meter, when backed in the corner by the judge,
blurted out at the city will ATTEMPT to clarify the commissioner's authority to allow dogs off-leash in parks. The judge was grilling her on how can a commissioner give himself the authority to tell people they can violate a law.

According to Van Meter, Parks will meet with the NYC Department of Health to
discuss the issue. Have you heard from them? I don't believe anyone has. They haven't proposed anything yet and there will be a 90-day comment period if and when they do.

You also get quotes from four people on the other side and only me on our
side...why? I thought reporters were supposed to remain neutral, have an open mind and try to present both sides equally.

Bob Holden"

Click here to e-mail Dana Rubinstein

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Some Juniper Park Videos

Here are some clips from Juniper Park, in Queens.

Off-leash hours

Unleashed German Shepherd on ballfields

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Video test

This is just a test of embedded video on this blog. Below is a clip from "YouTube". It's only 8 seconds long and shows just a tiny fraction of the offleash problem in Prospect Park. This group is just below the Picnic House and near Payne Hill. I suspect that once the dog owners get wind of this posting they'll pull the clip from "YouTube". I encourage you to go out and take videos of the unleashed dogs in your city park. Uploading to "YouTube" is very easy. Once uploaded I'll show them here.

I'd like to post your images, too. Once I figure out how to keep the spammers and flamers away, I'll post instructions.

Here's a video from Central Park:

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The truth about the "outdated" health code

Many (if not all) of the off-leash advocates complain about outdated health codes. They claim that they are laws passed in 1959. The implication is that the law hasn't been evaluated in almost 5 decades and should be revised. The fact is that the Board of Health did look at and revise the health codes - in 2003. Not only did they vote to let the existing codes stand they amended it to help ensure and increase the protection of New Yorkers. In "Notice of Adoption of Amendments to Sections 161.03, 161.04 and 161.05 of the New York City Health Code" a task force was created which included the New York City Police Department, Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Sanitation, Housing Authority, Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the Center for Animal Care and Control. Under the section titled, "Dogs to be Restrained" is the amendment:

"Notices of violation for failure to comply with this section may be issued by any authorized employee, officer or agent of the Department, or of the Departments of Sanitation and Parks and Recreation, or successor agencies."

So it appears that, not only has the parks commissioner ignored the health code, but also the entire 2003 task force.

-Click here to read the Board of Health Notice of Adoption-

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Not true

I've been accused by most of the off-leash advocates of being either:

a) a dog hater
b) an animal hater

To dispel any notion that I am either below is a link to a favorite website. Whenever my wife or I need to lift our spirits we go here:

-Click here for Cute Overload-

More favorable unsolicited e-mail

Here is another letter I just received supporting our attempt to compel the city to enforce the leash laws and create fenced-in dog runs.

Subject: dog runs in parks
From: Michael Bonifanti

Date: 9/2/06 12:08 AM

As a long-time park user I have seen how destructive it is to allow dogs to be off their leashes in our parks. I believe we should have adequately-spaced and well-maintained dog runs throughout Central Park where dogs could run freely. Outside of the dog runs no dog should EVER be allowed off leash ANYWHERE in the park at ANY TIME.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Another "reasonable" dog owner

Here is another example of the hateful e-mails the JPCA has been receiving, although this one is particularly irrational and rambling.

Date: Fri, 1 Sep 2006 00:07:03 EDT

To: info [at]


Subject: Dogs

You ass holes should be ashamed of yourselves for fighting against such a minute thing when you should be using your energy to encourage after school programs and recreation. Dogs, like kids need exercise and the more they get the more the owners get,they interact, they socialize, and they provide protection for their homes and the ones around theirs.Not only do the people benefit by this but so do the city shelters that are over packed and undermanned because there is not enough exercise for the dogs and they get tossed back into shelters that you end up paying for in the long run.If you ask me you idiots should spend more time on what is really wrong,dog owners for the most part are responsible and care about the community,which you ass holes are more concerned with getting your name in the paper and using valuable court time. Mr Holden obviously needs the money and has nothing else better to do as do the shitheads of the association may you all rot in hell.

Do you think Bucky would respond favorably to e-mails from the readers of this blog?

Poll on off-leash hours

Time Out New York publishes the results of their polls every week.

-Click for Leash Law Poll-