Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Op/Ed

Eyes On the Dog Run

10:38 AM EDT on August 8, 2006

Dog_Walkers.jpg

Talk about "eyes on the street," there is a group of New York City residents who patrol the city's streets and parks at all hours of the day and night, everyday. They are the city's dog owners and dog walkers. And they are under attack.

The boom in New York dog ownership owes itself in large part to an informal agreement that allows dog owners to take their dogs into parks between 9 pm and 9 am on any day of the week and let their dogs romp and roam parks unleashed.

Urban dog owners, like this one, know that their dogs are more well behaved when they have the chance to get a lot of exercise and socialize with other dogs and people. Where I grew up in suburban Staten Island, dogs were more territorial because, off the leash, they occupied only one small yard their entire lives, rarely interacting with other people and other dogs.

There is currently a lawsuit that would put an end to off-leash hours in city parks. Despite a 60 percent decline in the number of dogs bites in city parks over the past two decades, a Queens man wants the Parks Department and NYPD to enforce the city law mandating that dogs must be on leashes at all times in public.

That would be a bad enforcement policy. If the court rules that it must be enforced, many dog owners may be forced to leave the city for the suburbs. It also may encourage the return of criminals, drug dealers and anti-social behavior in park spaces that are currently well-used thanks to dogs and their owners.

The city's enforcement policy should continue to respect the current 9 pm to 9 am off-leash policy. The vast majority of dog owners realize that it is a privilege to let their pets roam free in the city parks and are good at self-policing. If a dog is particularly unfriendly or misbehaves frequently, an owner can be told to leash their dog. It's the sort of far sighted compromise that this city needs to do more often.

(Full disclosure: I was dog sitting an energetic Vizsla puppy this weekend)

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Legislation Introduced in Georgia to Fight Temporary License Plate Fraud

The bill is the most significant effort yet to stop the flow of fraudulent paper tags from Georgia car dealerships to New York City streets.

February 23, 2024

Community Board Backs DOT Road Diet for Brooklyn’s Deadly Third Av.

“This is just a beginning of what we could do to fix our community,” said one board member. “This is not done, this is not where we finish off.”

February 23, 2024

Friday’s Headlines: More Lunch Consumption Edition

Streetfilms goes to Paris. Plus more news.

February 23, 2024

Advocates Slam Albany Pols for Using Transit Fund to Encourage Driving

Gov. Hochul and state legislators in Albany are spending a congestion pricing-adjacent fund on toll rebates for drivers and showing zero interest in bus or rail, transit advocates charged.

February 23, 2024

Serious Crash in Greenpoint Again Reveals Flaws in City Design, Enforcement Against Reckless Drivers

A woman was seriously injured — and is clinging to life — because a driver with a long record of recklessness slammed into her on a Greenpoint Street as she came home with milk.

February 22, 2024
See all posts