Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Fact and ficition

So, let's see if I can summarize the offleash lunatic fringe arguments for opening the parks to unleashed dogs.

"It has been a successful 20 year experiment"

- Documents posted on this blog have former park commissioner Henry Stern declaring that in 1999 they had to make a concerted effort to crack down on the dog problem. His efffort was applauded by the AKC.

- Current commissioner Adrian Benepe, in an article in New York Magazine in 1998 stated, "Ten to fifteen years ago, observes Adrian Benepe, the no-nonsense Parks commissioner for Manhattan, the parks were rife with crises: crime, drug dealing, graffiti, homeless encampments, rotting infrastructure. Many were resolved. “The dog problem is the only real problem we have,” he says. [...] “People are almost compelled to let them off the leash, because they need so much more exercise and space,” says Benepe. Dog owners make these choices and then expect their fellow New Yorkers to live with the consequences. “They say to us, ‘You need to allow us to exercise hunting dogs in crowded nineteenth-century parks.’ “

"Unleashed dogs have reduced crime in parks"

- We learned that, until last year, the NYPD did not keep separate statistics on crimes in parks. The information just doesn't exist to make their claim

- Crime began going down in NYC in 1991 as a directly result of new procedures under the Giuliani administration

"Socialized dogs are happier and healthier"

- By nearly all trainer's definition, socialized refers to people, places and things, not other dogs

- The title "animal behaviorist", or similar titles can be used by anyone, regardless of their background

- No ABS Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists thinks that allowing large groups of dogs to interact in an unenclosed environment is a positive decision

"Allowing thousands of dogs to run, unleashed in city parks has reduced dog bites"

- More like, all the unleashed dogs have chased more people out of the parks

- How many dog bites are too many?

- There are no statistics on the number of injuries other than bites that were caused directly or indirectly by an unleashed dog