Dog Park

I haven’t been in Prospect Park in a year. Before that, for about half a dozen years, I only visited a few times a year. What a change this has been in my life! This blog’s “beyond” was Prospect when I first started. I live a little further away now, but the real reason is that the Parks Department and the Prospect Park Alliance, the “conservancy” that manages the park in lieu of democracy, have decided that people with dogs have priority–over wildlife, habitat, and other humans. Dogs loose in the woodlands, dogs loose in the Vale, dogs running all over the Lullwater. They’ve successfully chased me out.

All of these places, by the way, are areas where dogs should be leashed at all times. That’s city law: dogs need to be leashed everywhere and at all times except for specific posted places and times. The Long Meadow, Nethermead, and the meadow portion of the Peninsula were until recently the only places where unleashed dogs were allowed, before 9 am and after 9pm. Now there’s also a formal full-time dog run, although surely the Long Meadow was already the largest dog run in the city?

So there are rules, but there is no enforcement. There are some small signs. Parks and the PPA earnestly wish that people do the right thing. Well, guess what, some people will not do the right thing. Ever. And it’s questionable how earnest the powers that be are. Dog owners are a strong lobby. They are, in the parlance of the jargon, “stakeholders.”

Recently a friend and her child witnessed an unleashed dog kill a squirrel in Prospect. The squirrels, of course, have no ability to hold a stake in this context.

A pack of dogs is regularly released in the Peninsula woodlands, which is always an off-leash area, by at least one professional dog walker. (Using the park for profit by private actors is no more legal than the unleashed dogs.) Last week, another friend saw one of these dogs running with a turtle in its mouth as several other dogs gave chase. She counted over twenty dogs running wild there and reports the dog walker laughing when she told him his charges were tormenting if not killing the turtle. The turtles are not stakeholders.

Endangered Piping Plovers are beginning to be seen locally. A birder at Breezy Point, part of the National Park Service’s Jamaica Bay NRA, counted a dozen dogs, and multiple cars (vehicles aren’t allowed after 3/15) last weekend when he saw Piping Plovers for the first time this year. They simply can’t compete with dogs on the beach. Dogs aren’t supposed to be on that beach, even leashed.

Farther afield, maybe you saw that news item about a dog attacking a seal on an English beach. The seal didn’t survive.

This is probably the place where some idiot calls me a dog-hater. Nah, I love dogs; it’s the people in charge of the dogs who are the issue. “In charge” is generous; their is little evidence of well-trained pets in this city. (Some even hire others to take care of their dogs, like they do for their bipedal children.) It’s even rare to see curbing, so our street tree pits are soaked with gallons of urine year in and year out. This, one person told me once, is “natural.”

Canine distemper, rabies, dog bites.

2 Responses to “Dog Park”

  1. 1 Ellen March 26, 2021 at 10:08 am

    I totally agree. Can you get a lot of people to attend the Community Board meeting for Parks to add this to the agenda and make a stink? I have become expert on attending every meeting that I have an issue with. Since they are all on Zoom it is easy.

  2. 2 Chuck McAlexander March 26, 2021 at 5:25 pm

    Couldn’t agree more. There is a time and place for everything. Many dog owners do take advantage. Nobody benefits. Not even the dogs.

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