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off_leash001.jpgPhoto, Kay Schrenk Tomorrow, leash loonies will have their day in court when Justice Peter Kelly hears agruments in their suit against NYC Parks Department to end the early morning and late night off-leash courtesy hours that dogs and ttheir owners have enjoyed in City parks for the past 20 years – including in dog runs. (Courtroom 24, Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Queens)
The real issue isn’t dogs. As usual, it’s politics. And power.
Bob Holden, head of the Juniper Park Civic Association, and a member of his local community board – and who has higher political aspirations – and his group have offered to end the suit if the Parks Department cedes control of parks to local community boards. So it’s just another bullshit political power play, with 1.4 million dog owners caught in the middle.
Obviously, Benny Bix Ochman Labradoodle puppy and I have an emotional, health and social stake in this issue. But this NY TImes Op Ed piece by Ted Kerasote has a pretty balanced view:

“If they have access to parks that allow off-leash recreation, their dogs run and play with other dogs, burning off pent-up energy. In addition, both person and dog get what many of us want nearly every day: access to some green space, safety from cars, exercise and conversation with our own kind.
New York’s dog owners and their dogs deserve these basics, and not simply because the dog owners pay taxes that support the parks. The benefits of off-leash recreation have spread far beyond dogs and their owners. Parks that were once hangouts for criminals have been reclaimed for the non-dog-owning public, in part, by the presence of so many law-abiding citizens walking their dogs at all hours and in bad weather.
Sending the city’s dogs back to leash jail won’t make the parks any safer. The leash law and off-leash courtesy hours have worked synergistically to control dogs on crowded streets while allowing them and their owners to enjoy a small portion of the city’s green space. Both should be kept. “

This morning, in the rain, Benny and I went to Central Park where we met our usual group of about 20 other dogs and their owners. The dogs romped gleefully for an hour or so. We all left the park together. Want to know how many other people were using the park this morning, and were disturbed or endangered by our presence? None. Nobody but dog owners are crazy enough to come out and stand in the rain for hours so their dogs can get exercise and stay healthy. Look for us in the rain, snow, heat and cold. Set your clocks by us. We’ll be there, keeping the parks safe for the rest of New York.
Hopefully, the court throws these leash grinches out for bringing a frivilous lawsuit.