Friday, March 30, 2007

No dog runs in Manhattan, either

According to "Notice of Adoption of an Amendment to Article 161 of the New York City Health Code" the argument for off-leash areas stems from this:

"[Department of Parks and Recreation] has informed the [Department of Health] that this policy was implemented at the request of dog owners who had no alternative place to exercise their dogs."

Why the demand for off-leash in Central Park? I guess when you bring your dog to an enclosed dog run you actually have to watch it AND clean up after it.

(Click to Enlarge Map)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Dog runs, community board input & signage

Here is a link to an article from the publication "The Village" entitled "Leroy Run Crowded and Unsafe, Small-dog Owners Howl". It points out some glaring inconsistencies in the NYCDog and Department of Parks and Recreation's argument for off-leash privileges in unenclosed areas of city parks. A couple of the more obvious complaints by dog owners are concerns for:

- Dogs getting hit by cars
- Small dogs being attacked and, sometimes, killed by larger dogs

I also find it interesting that the process in the Leroy Street area, appropriately, involved discussions with and decisions by Community Board 2. Prospect Park's boundaries include Community Boards 6, 7, 8, 9 and 14. None were involved in the decision to allow dog owners to unleash their dogs in Prospect Park.

The decision to allow unleashed dogs on all of the park's open meadows and the lake was made by Tupper Thomas of the Prospect Park Alliance. I should note that she is not on the City Council nor is she the parks commissioner, yet she has determined a city policy in Prospect Park.

Tupper has signs removed to appease dog owners

The follow excerpt is from the newsletter of the Park Slope organization, "Fellowship for the Interest of Dogs" (FIDO). It is from the organization's president Mary McInerny's column "From the Alpha Desk" spring 2004:

"Finally, a note to all the denizens of the Peninsula who were dismayed to see those “No Pets in Lake” signs: one benefit of FIDO’s presence at all those Park meetings is access to the Powers That Be. The signs should be modified or removed by the time the water warms up. (Thanks, Tupper!)"

The signs were removed.

Access to dog runs

According to "Notice of Adoption of an Amendment to Article 161 of the New York City Health Code" the argument for off-leash areas stems from this:

"[Department of Parks and Recreation] has informed the [Department of Health] that this policy was implemented at the request of dog owners who had no alternative place to exercise their dogs."

Look at the map below. In the case of Brooklyn, if anyone from the Board of Health or Department of Parks bothered to investigate, the highest concentration of dog runs are in neighborhoods near Prospect Park. In addition to those locations, "The Gothamist", in May 2005 identified two more locations.

"May 9, 2005
Unofficial Dog Runs Closed in Brooklyn

Some Brooklyn residents are upset over the closure of three small parks near 18th Street and the Prospect Parkway. The NY post reports that many dog owners had used the parks as unofficial leash-free dog runs, but now the parks are being reseeded. And while Prospect Park is incredibly dog friendly, some residents feel that it's too far a walk. The Parks Department is considering other locations for dog runs in the area, and says that two of the three parks will be open to leashed dogs."

(Click to Enlarge Map)

I've observed dog owners still using that area for unleashing their dogs. I'll post photos at some point.

Why would the departments of health and parks grant a request with obvious broad implications for human and wildlife welfare? Why would the Department of Parks and Recreation acknowledge the high costs of maintaining an enclosed dog run by requiring dog associations to foot the bill, yet ignore the inevitable increases in park maintenance costs as a consequence of escalating and uncontrolled dog activity in city parks?

Prospect Park's own special rules

According to "Notice of Adoption of an Amendment to Article 161 of the New York City Health Code":

"Such rules shall include provisions that prohibit unrestrained dogs in unenclosed DOPR controlled areas and facilities except during a specified range of time, that shall not begin earlier than 9:00 p.m. and not extend past 9:00 a.m."

For several years dogs have been, and continue to be, permitted off-leash in Prospect Park beginning at 5PM. The PPA has even put up signs to that effect. The signs have been place strategically on the back of the triangular park signage displays. Most, if not all, face away from foot traffic, paths and roadways and towards the woods. Below are three examples. Like the designated off-leash locations, the fluctuating 5PM schedule is virtually ignored and interpreted as "all year".

(Click to Enlarge Images)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Letter to the editor

The following was a letter sent in to the Queens Tribune regarding the off-leash debacle:

"Keep Em Leashed

To The Editor:

I write concerning the Parks Dept. plans to allow dogs to be off their leashes.

My husband and I used to walk in Crocheron/Golden Park early in the morning. We did this for a long time and then we would be walking and a dog would be off the leash and run to us. Oh yes, the owner would come along like Santa Claus shouting, “ Ho! Ho! Ho! Don’t worry, he won’t bite.” By then, the dog would be very close, and I would be very frightened.

This happened a number of times. Some of the dogs were large. Some of the dogs were overly friendly or overly aggressive. When we talked to some of the owners, they explained that the dogs could run free early in the morning. We pointed out to some owners that their dogs had defecated in the park and the owners would sort of shrug. We would then point out that children, too, ran freely in the park and should not have to fear running into feces. And I tried to tell them that their dogs frightened me.

They suggested that we not walk in the park early in the morning. We also did not wish to have these unpleasant conversations. So we gave the park to the dogs in the morning.

Well, then we would walk in the park during the day. On some afternoons, there were obedience classes and after the classes, the owners —I suspect to reward the dogs— would unleash them and we would have more then one dog run at us.

So we gave Crocheron/Golden Park to the dogs! We now walk the sidewalks and no longer walk in the park.

We strongly support not allowing dogs to be off the leash.

Rita Krich,

How many other people have given up the parks to dogs? I know many people who no longer use Prospect Park during the "off-leash" hours.

Dept. of Parks Lawsuit

Check out the article on the latest lawsuit against NYC Department of Park. Apparently, the related U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit has been settled:

City Parks Face Racial Bias Lawsuit

Friday, March 16, 2007

Rabies in New York City

The following is a quote from "Department of Health And Mental Hygiene Board of Health - Notice of Adoption of an Amendment to Article 161 of the New York City Health Code" (

"In addition, rabies remains endemic in New York City and the numbers of cases of rabies in wildlife appears to be increasing: from six positive cases in 2003, to 14 in 2004, doubling to 28 cases in 2005. Wild animals, many subject to rabies, reside in City parks, and also enter New York City from suburban habitats, seeking open spaces in the City, including those in parks. While rabies remains endemic in the City, all dogs must be vaccinated against rabies, in accordance with Health Code §§11.65 and 11.66. However, when dogs are off the leash in park areas and facilities and not under their owners’ constant observation, the dogs are at greater risk of exposure to rabid animals than leashed dogs."

Makes perfect sense to allow dogs to run free in the parks, especially when the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene acknowleges that only about 5 percent of New York City's dog population is properly licensed.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Another obnoxious person from the fringe

My spamblocker filter picked up a letter from one of the off-leash lunatic fringe. Here's an excerpt to give you an idea of the vitriol these folks exude:

"Hey there guy. I want to be a park 'reporter'. But, you see, what I will be reporting on is people like you. Exposing all your bs, all your lies and propaganda. L, hmm....104th...who might THAT be. Maybe Lorraine. No, she has no agenda. hahaha!!!!

Here is a report. 'citybirder', can you help me find him? I'm curious about the petition names he submitted. Where is that on your 'blog' that SO many people read. The only people who read your blah blog are people like me, who get a laugh out of it and use it to make sure that the public understands the TRUTH about your 'reporting' and your couple of friends and civic supporters.

First of all, it is so damn clear that you are lying with regard to the "Mommy! Mommy" picture. It is CLEARLY a man that is walking the child and he is smiling. You can't even get your own facts straight.

[ ... ] Off leash is here to stay my friend. Get used to it. In the meantime, people like me will be the first to let other folks know about your propaganda, half truths and outright lies.


"Lorraine"? No. Now you know why I kept the woman's name off of the posting, so unstable individuals like this person stay away from her.

"... the petition names he submitted". Lawyers have already begun an action against N.Y.C.D.O.G. for libel.

Here is a larger version of the photo to show that the "man" is a woman and she is holding out her hand to the dog, but what does that have to do with the little girl's fear? I was with another person who could verify what occurred. It's all being documented.

Little girl afraid of dog (click to enlarge)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

More observations

This one just came in yesterday:

"From: L.
Sent: Tuesday, March 13, 2007 6:19 PM
Subject: Re: Dogs that are allowed to roam loose ...

Once again I became enraged by the unleash rules. One day last week I came home about two in the afternoon. What a joy to see about 6-7 large breed dogs running off leash in the park across the street from my house. It appears the dog owners just made a little dog meet group and were talking as their dogs ran about wildly. Not only were they off leash at a prime hour when children are around, but this is a little league baseball field NO dogs are even allowed to walk in there with a leash. They are so busy gossiping I doubt any of them noticed if their four legged friend decided to use the park as a bathroom and clean up after them.

I called 311 to connect me with the 104th precinct. Oh I loved, this the phone just rang and rang. How is it possible that no one picks up the phone at a police station!!! I didn't want to call 911 since it wasn't an emergency so I called the office of Senator Maltese. I told them the situation and they were very kind and gave me a direct phone number to someone at 104th. When I called 104th they seemed annoyed that I was given a direct number. They told me they will send a car and note the park so a squad car can come by daily to issue warnings. No one has seen a squad car at all and I still see dogs running loose."

Late Sunday afternoon I ran into a friend of mine in the Ravine. We were standing around talking near the fence at the back of the lower pool. Unleashed dogs were going back and forth in a steady stream after 5pm through paths that are clearly marked leashed dogs only. At one point, a woman was walking down the path towards the Nethermead with her, approximately, 4 year old daughter. An unleashed Ridge-back ran up to her and the little girl was scared to death. She was crying, "Mommy, mommy" while hiding behind her mother. The owner was completely clueless, talking on her cellphone. The dog then came over to sniff my crotch. The woman saw my camera and leashed her dog, the whole time she was still blabbing on the phone. I took some photographs. The one with the little girl isn't very good, but you get the idea. There were approximately 15-20 unleashed dogs in that spot from 5:30pm to 5:50pm. Oh yeah, and some woman let her down go under the fence and into the lower pool.

Central Park signs

I just received the following note and photo.

"These have gone up now in various places in the Ramble [and I assume in other woodlands]. Hope Prospect Park is doing the same."

No, they haven't gone up in Prospect Park. This is the Department of Parks and Recreations answer to the problem? How about patrolling the parks and giving out summonses! I predict that, as in the past, those signs (and any like them) will be torn down by dog owners very soon.

Remember this photo? This dog's owner regularly allowed her dog to hop the fence and run around in the flower beds:

Friday, March 09, 2007

Rachael Ray attacked by dog

The following story was in the New York Post in the Page Six section:

March 6, 2007 -- RACHAEL Ray was attacked by a dog in Union Square Park Saturday while bravely defending her pit-bull mix, Isaboo. According to the TV host's rep, "This dog came up - there was no owner in sight - and became aggressive. Rachael and some others shooed it away, but it came back and attacked Isaboo. Other dogs were involved, and Rachael jumped in and was bit by one of the dogs on the leg. A nurse was in the park and checked her out. She's fine."

I wonder where the owner was? Oh, that doesn't matter, it was during the offleash hours.

The article link is here.

Dog on dog attack

I just received the following from a friend in Prospect Park:

Sent: Fri, 9 Mar 2007 5:16 PM 
Subject: dog attack 
[ ... ] My neighbor Angela was walking her small collie (a miniture, or Sheltie) in the park last weekend, on a leash. She was talking to a woman whose large Shepherd was off-leash. It suddenly attacked her dog, with the owner just flailing around, Angela screaming and kicking the dog, and her little dog getting ripped apart. Suddenly (she said like a guardian angel) Steve was on the attack dog, grabbed it by the hackles and pulled it off. The owner of the vicious dog is now pissed at Angela for "bad mouthing" her with the FIDO crowd. Angela told her if she ever sees her with that dog off leash again, she'll call the cops. Here's the interesting part. Angela said this woman is an "ex-nun." I knew immediately who she was talking about. This same woman used to have 3 large out of control shepherds (I think one of them was the one who attacked Peter). When I used to take my dog to the park about 8 years ago, everyone knew her dogs were vicious and out of control. She's still around, and still out of control. The vet told Angela [that] Steve saved her dog's life. The dog is full of puncture wounds that are getting inflamed and infected, and the bills will be considerable).

I'm looking for "reporters" from other parks around Brooklyn and the city. If you, or anyone you know, frequents a park other than Central Park and Prospect Park and has had problems with unleashed dogs, write to me here:

Friday, March 02, 2007

Brooklyn Record comments

The Brooklyn Record posted a story about my "Pepper Spray" posting. What followed was a steady stream of comments, some of which are clearly representative of the offleash lunative fringe's character and temperment. I'm not sure what motivated the Brooklyn Record editor, but the entire piece was recently removed from the website. I was able to download a cached version and save it to a PDF file. You can read the text here:

-Brooklyn Record, "Fighting off Dogs with Pepper Spray"-

I also don't know why the following comments was removed from the list of comments. Draw you own conclusions:

"At the public hearing the other day, where were the minorities? Absent were the blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Hasids, Middle Easterners and other minorities. Present were whites only. So, is this offleash fury all about parks for whites only? Just noticing. Just asking. I was the tall guy up front watching the show, taking notes."

Column in the NY Daily News

The following was in yesterday's New York Daily News:

New York Daily News, Originally published on March 1, 2007

It's much a-'doo' about droppings
by Denis Hamill

Talk about kicking up a stink.

Last week, I wrote here about being forced out of Crocheron Park twice because of a plethora of dog crap on the meadows and ball fields. I complained that this was probably a direct result of the insane new law permitting dogs to run free through our city parks from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m.

I'm actually happy for the poor dogs that are forced to live in a cramped city of 8 million people. After being imprisoned in small apartments, sometimes chained in basements or on back porches, the poor animals need to answer the call of the wild. They need to run free. And when they do, they usually relieve themselves.

The problem is that some of the selfish dog owners don't clean up after them.

Don't blame the poor dogs. Blame the dirty people.

Because when a father like me takes his little kid to the park to toss around a football, as I did on two different occasions recently, my son stepped in dog poop.

Once, the ball rolled in it. Both times I had to take my kid home from a public park created for people because of the droppings of domesticated animals.

That, in a word, stinks.

I wrote a column knocking irresponsible dog owners. Not dogs. And the spit hit the fan. Everyone in this business knows that you can write about war, pedophilia, rape, murder, racism, nuclear brinksmanship, political corruption, terrorism and even Britney Spears' haircut and you will get a feisty but civilized discourse with intelligent readers.

But write about dog crap and you get more mail than Santa Claus, and very little of it nice. Or sane.

Someone at the Daily News told me a story about when a reporter and a photographer flew to South America some 20-odd years ago to cover a mammoth mudslide caused by a volcanic eruption.

Entire villages were buried in mud and rubble. Thousands of people died. The team filed wrenching stories and heartbreaking photos detailing every conceivable permutation of human misery. Families lost. Children buried. Wailing mothers.

The response from readers was sad but measured.

Then photographer John Roca snapped a photo of a dog wandering alone in the mud and the reporter filed a story about the animals affected by the earthquake and the phones at the city desk lit up like the Manhattan skyline. Stop the presses!

My mail last week steamed with hate. Muffet Jones wrote, ". . .Your rant against dogs in parks is circulating [on] the Internet. You are a very poor writer and it's doubly unfortunate that you have reproduced." Gary Kaskel also attacked my kid, "Sorry your yuppie spawn got dog doody on him. Let's all call the Centers for Disease Control!"

"Spawn" I'll take on the chin. But "yuppie" is a bitin' word!

Someone else suggested if I didn't like dogs in the city parks, I should move to North Dakota.

Huh? I was certain this was a gag campaign orchestrated by some new comedy team with a name like Dung and Dunger.

But these people were dead serious.

I also received many letters agreeing with me and a polite note from Parks Department spokesman Warner Johnston who said he'd read my column and that they'd inspected the lawns of Crocheron Park for K-9 waste and couldn't find any, "although we did find a lot of goose droppings."

This unscientific, bureaucratic CYA comment soon ricocheted around the dogosphere and was swallowed as dogma.

Soon everyone with an incontinent pooch and a computer mouse was an accredited dungologist and e-mailing me, insisting my kid stepped in goose goop and that I was a dog hater. Which I'm not.

One editor e-mailed me that his divorce lawyer, "a dog owner who uses Prospect Park, just called me full of good cheer to say that the Parks Department confirmed that the poop you wrote about was from Canadian geese."

The Parks Dept. confirmed nothing! They have no idea what my kid stepped in. I do. (Excuse the pun.)

But now Dogland Security has even ID'ed the nationality of the poop perps! The rabid right-wingers were right about that porous Canadian border!

Look, I worked on a farm in Ireland as a teenager, driving cattle to and from pasture with a magnificent cattle dog, and later cleaning the waste out of the dairy, horse barn, chicken coops.

I grew up on the top floor of a Brooklyn tenement where Babe Caputo kept a pigeon coop on the roof and so I know from stinking experience about animal droppings.

Even when droppings come from a large goose, and factoring in that they turn from green to brown with age, they do not remotely resemble hound mounds.

And I have covered enough political campaigns in my career to differentiate between the by-products of bulls, horses, dogs and geese. What my kid stepped in at Crocheron Park, twice, was dog crap.

No B.S.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

"Certain Times and Places"

Both Henry Stern and current commissioner of parks, Adrien Benepe, use vague terms, such as, "certain times and places" to describe the unofficial off-leash policy. It appears that only the offleash, lunatic fringe know the details of the where and when. It is for that reason that I issue a challenge to Robert A. Marino of N.Y.C.D.O.G. Post on the N.Y.C.D.O.G. website and distribute as a press release the times and places where the alleged 20 year policy has taken place and "needs" to be made official. Make sure that, when it comes to Prospect Park, that the general public understands the following:

- The offleash areas encompass nearly 110 acres
- The offleash areas cover nearly every open field and meadow

- The offleash hours begin at 5pm for half the year

- The offleash hours begin at 9pm for the other half of the year

Since Mr. Marino makes the claim that it has been such a success, he must know the details of each park that has benefited from the "unofficial policy". Make sure that the all times and places are listed for the following parks. I'm sure that some of the 20,000 or 33,000 members (it depends on which press release you read) would be happy to help you put the list together:

Bronx Park
Crotona Park
Henry Hudson Park
Julius Richman Park (formerly Echo Park)
Pelham Bay Park
University Woods
Van Cortlandt Park

Carroll Park
Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park
Fort Greene Park
Marine Park
Prospect Park
Sunset Park
McCarren Park
McGolrick Park
Owl's Head Park

Battery Park
Bennett Park
Bowling Green
Bryant Park
Carl Schurz Park
Central Park
City Hall Park
Collect Pond Park
Columbus Park
Damrosch Park (Lincoln Center)
Dante Park
DeWitt Clinton Park
East River Park
Fort Tryon Park
Fort Washington Park
Gramercy Park
High Line
Highbridge Park
Hudson River Park
Inwood Hill Park
J. Hood Wright Park
John Jay Park
Madison Square Park
Marcus Garvey Memorial Park
Morningside Park
Paley Park
Ralph Bunche Park
Randalls Island-Ward's Island
Riverbank State Park
Riverside Park
Sakura Park
Samuel N. Bennerson 2nd Playground
Sara Delano Roosevelt Park
St. Nicholas Park
Straus Park
Stuyvesant Park
Thomas Paine Park
Tompkins Square Park
Union Square
Washington Square Park
Winston Churchill Park

Alley Pond Park
Astoria Park
Baisley Pond Park
Brookville Park
Clearview Park
Cunningham Park
Doughboy Park
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park
Forest Park
Frank Golden Memorial Park
Juniper Valley Park
Kissena Park
Liberty Park
Major Mark Park
Maurice Park
Roy Wilkens Park
Rainy Park
Rufus King Park
Springfield Park

Staten Island:
Amundsen Circle
Austen House Park
Bradys Park
Blue Heron Park Preserve
Conference House Park
Clove Lakes Park
Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk
Fresh Kills Park
Lemon Park
Silver Lake Park
The Greenbelt
Willowbrook Park
Wolfe's Pond Park