Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Decision next week

Next week the Board of Health is scheduled to make their decision on amending the leash law. Lately, the commissioner of health, Dr. Thomas Frieden, has been featured prominently in the media...and it hasn't been very positive. I don't think that he anticipated the public's reaction to both his trans-fat ban and hospital closure policies. If he votes in favor of amending the leash law to permit the commissioner of parks to enforce the law at his discretion, he'll be 0 for 3.

Here's a good letter to Dr. Frieden that was forwarded to me. In addition, the author of a previous letter witnessed just one of the many negative results of zero enforcement:

"[...] I noticed the Parks Deparment in Central Park put up several signs stating dogs must be leashed...only to have certain dog owners "Fido" take them down. Today one of the groundskeeper was pleading with a man to please remove his large unleashed boxer from a fenced in (freshly seeded?) area, near 72nd street and Fifth Avenue. The owner of the unleashed boxer was laughing and refused to remove his dog."

"From: Thomas M. Sweeney, Jr.
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 2006
Subject: Proposed Amendment to Article 161 of NYC Health Code; Leash Law

Mr. Frieden:

Please do not forsake the Public's Health to appease a vocal lawless minority of dog owners who desire to let their dogs run free.

The Public are overwhelmingly against the proposed change to the leash law. As you are aware, the data upon which the proposed policy is based is faulty.

The City's own statistics show that the majority of dog owners are not in compliance with dog license laws. We have about 1.5 Million dogs - how many are licensed? In lieu of the proposal to amend Art. 161, please take this opportunity to encourage the Parks Dept. to enforce the law. If one child is mauled by an unleashed dog that is too many. Unfortunately we are way beyond one.

In discussing the issue with dog owners, many (particularly owners of smaller dogs) are strongly against the proposal, as their charges will make nice snacks for some of the more fearsome beasts. As the passion behind this proposal stems in large part from obese lethargic dog owners who desire to remain sessile while their animals territorialize the Parks, this situation presents you with a novel chance to improve the health of dog owners throughout the city, by requiring that they run alongside their dogs when not in a dog-run - see there's always a silver lining ;-)

Among the more laughable clauses in the proposed amendment is that ". . .owners of dogs allowed to be off the leash in the DOPR areas and facilities maintain and provide proof of current rabies vaccination . . ." less than one tenth of these dogs are licensed and someone expects these scofflaw owners to carry proof of vaccination with them?

If you continue to support this outlandish drive to expose our children to dog feces and being mutilated by unleashed dogs, I will do everything in my power to see that the Dept of Health is reigned-in by the City Council and the courts to limit its ability to endanger human health in favor of feral fauna.

I strongly suggest that the board vote down the proposal to amend Section 161.05 of the Health Code and instead start enforcing the leash law and the license law.

Respectfully yours,

Thomas M. Sweeney, Jr. , Esq."