Dogs may be man’s best friend, but dog owners are not best friends with the Parks Department these days.
The Parks Department have been stepping up their efforts to enforce leash laws, prohibiting unleashed dogs to run in public areas during all hours — in stark contrast with laws which had previously allowed unleashing during certain hours and were relatively unenforced.
Dog owners are up in arms with the unclear rules and have called the new enforcements “confusing.” According to a report in the Downtown Express, “The Parks Department said there is no confusion about the law which was codified back in 2007, shortly after the city’s then Board of Health voted in favor of the informal ‘courtesy hours’ policy, which allowed dogs off leashes in designated areas of City parks between 9PM and 9AM.”
Battery Park is not included as one of the places that allows for leash-free dogs.
Violations of this rule are costly: non-compliant dog owners can be forced to pay $100 fines for unleashed dogs.
However, according to Jeff Galloway, longtime founder of the Battery Park City Dog Association, enforcement of the rule has been arbitrary. In an email sent to Battery Park City residents, Galloway states, “Off-leash privileges in Battery Park have resulted in no damage to the Park and, to the contrary, have greatly enhanced the quality of life for local residents, by providing a much-needed recreation area for local pets and by making the Park safer for all residents during the hours in which off-leash use had been permitted. The Financial District is fast-becoming a vibrant residential area; if Battery Park becomes off-limits, Financial District residents will have no place in their own neighborhood to take their dogs. Many BPC residents would love to have an off-leash area as well, and Battery Park is conveniently located for BPC residents.”
Community Board 1 is in recess for August, but have invited the Parks Department to discuss the issue when the board reconvenes in September. For those interested in supporting the Downtown Dog Owners initiatives to keep unleashed hours in Battery Park, sign the petition online.
How do you feel about dog owners unleashing pets in Battery Park during designated hours?