Sunday, November 12, 2006

Entitlement and rudeness?

The following piece is from "The Central Bark, A Publication of Central Park Paws and the Central Park Conservancy", Volume 6, Issue 3, Summer 2006. Susan Buckley is the President of Central Park PAWS and the editor of the newsletter.

"A Letter from the President

We have a problem.
Do you want to be part of the solution?

Is it because the fenced-off greenswards are irresistible? Is it because human nature leads us to take our privileges for granted, as rights rather than privileges? Is it because we can't remember a time when we didn't think we had "the run of the park"? For whatever reason(s) there seems to be more than usual flouting of the rules over the past few months. Recently I saw seven dogs racing across the ballfields north of the Great Lawn as one owner tossed a ball right in front of three Conservancy supervisors. Central to the mission of Central Park PAWS is the ongoing dialogue that we as dog owners have with Conservancy staff. We report concerns to the Conservancy and they report concerns to us. It's odd, they are saying, but more people are letting their dogs into off-limits areas than usual. I was shocked, too, when I received an email report from a Brooklyn dog owner who was part of a Mayor's Alliance event in Central Park earlier this summer: "I had to ask multiple times to have people leash their dogs past my area where I was setting up and I was yelled at and treated rudely......Not one person heeded my request......Please keep in mind as you fight for off-leash rights, the sense of entitlement has to go."

This sort of attitude isn't what I see in the park, not at all, but clearly it exists with some people sometimes in some places. A sense of entitlement is never an attractive trait but it can spread easily when we forget how privileged we are. It should not take the threatened loss of our offleash privileges to remind us not to take our luck for granted. We should be thankful for it every day. So, what can WE do as part of PAWS? Being "the dog police" is neither appropriate nor pleasant. And having a divine but naughty dog myself, I know how easy it is for the most caring of owners to find their dogs dancing out onto the lawns. What we can do is to try our best to set good examples, to watch our dogs with eagle eyes, and to gently remind others of the critical importance of abiding by the rules of the park - and of basic civility.

Susan Buckley
President, Central Park PAWS"

I'm not sure where Ms. Buckley has been running her dog but what she has described has been "business as usual" in Prospect Park since 1997.

When she writes, "more than usual flouting of the rules", does she mean flouting of the rules occurs regularly but she has been noticing it more? Or, perhaps all the publicity the lawsuit has created is bringing more dog owners into the park. There doesn't seem to be any way to quantify the scofflaws since there are so few Park Enforcement Patrol officers. Also, until this year, the NYPD hadn't separated by category crimes committed in their precincts from those committed within city parks in their reporting areas.

Ms. Buckley reiterates that, "more people are letting their dogs into off-limits areas than usual". What the heck is "usual" and is that number acceptable?

Does "having a divine but naughty dog myself", mean that she understands the difficulty of controlling certain dogs because her dog regularly flouts the rules?

Rude (unleashed) dog owners?! No surprise here. Now at least one dog owner knows what it feels like to be on the receiving end of the off-leash lunatic fringe's obnoxious attitude of entitlement.

If, after 20 years of off-leash courtesy hours we're still experiencing the aforementioned problems, isn't it time that the "experiment" be terminated as a complete failure?