Editorial: Leash your dogs

People are roaming free in JP’s wealth of parkland with the arrival of spring. Unfortunately, so are off-leash pet dogs.

Having a dog off-leash on the street or in a park is illegal. It’s illegal because it’s irresponsible, rude and dangerous.

Dogs are not miniature people. They are animals that can and will bite. Uncontrolled, they dig up flowerbeds. They go to the bathroom on paths, ball fields and graves. They terrorize wildlife. They run into the road. They bark and howl. They have a penchant for forcing their attentions on unwilling people.

The great majority of JP dog-owners understand this and leash their pets. These responsible people are a community asset. Dog-walkers may be the most regular visitors to parks and streets, helping to keep them safe. And they provide properly controlled exposure to the joy of pet animals for those of us who enjoy interacting with them.

But it only takes one uncontrolled animal to ruin a public space, and significant numbers of JP dog-owners ignore the leash law, including in parks where it is prominently posted. The City lacks the resources and, apparently, the will to enforce the leash law.

Peer pressure is lacking, likely because of the hostile sense of entitlement one can face from such dog-owners. But we have found that most people want to be responsible when the law is pointed out.

We support an increase in fenced-in, off-leash dog runs in city parks. It would mitigate the off-leash dog problem and would improve the quality of life for animals that like to socialize with their fellows and roam around with some freedom.

We also support an increase in leash-law enforcement as a basic quality-of-life measure and an obvious resource for City coffers. Uncontrolled animals should be treated at least as seriously as graffiti vandalism.

In the meantime, residents should speak up when they see an off-leash dog. Fellow dog-owners are the very best source of peer pressure. Most of them are setting a great example and should point that out to their less responsible brethren.

3 comments for “Editorial: Leash your dogs

  1. April 30, 2012 at 10:26 am

    I’m a bit fed up with the off-leash dog running in the greenway parks near Forest Hills myself. There’s tons of dog crap in there as well and since it’s “patrolled” by the state, nothing will likely be done, enforcement/citation-wise. I’ve had two unleashed dogs charge at my 3 year old son in there – it’s unpleasant, especially when getting attitude back from one of the owners after pointing out the law. I suppose imagining a large horse-sized salivating creature running towards you would help illustrate the point of view from a small child.

  2. Anonymous
    April 30, 2012 at 9:11 am

    Willcohen’s comment shows, as the Gazette put it, the “hostile sense of entitlement one can face from such dog-owners.”  Not most dog owners, but dog owners like willcohen.  His comment tees off on the Gazette for saying what’s on most people’s minds when they see an off-leash dog in a park (#1 complaint of Arboretum users according to Boston Parks Department).  As someone who grew up with dogs, I encountered the occasional other owner who was like willcohen–“Stop calling me on my obnoxious behavior or I’ll just get more obnoxious.”  It just doesn’t change.  The solution, like the Gazette put it, is peer pressure, though more enforcement wouldn’t hurt.

    More dog runs would be a great idea.  Fewer obnoxious off-leash owners with a sense of entitlement would be great too.

  3. Willcohen
    April 27, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    The Gazette should spend less time chastising dog owners with ignorant screeds about how off leash dogs “will bite… dig up flowerbeds…bark and howl”, as if owners of such dogs are willfully bent on the destruction of our neighborhood. In my experience, dogs which are leashed do far more barking and digging as a result of being chained for life. ANY dog that bites needs to be heavily rehabilitated or put down – full stop. 

    The Gazette should spend more time advocating for the implementation of traffic light cameras. I have lived in many cities around the world and have never seen a place with larger numbers of people who flat-out ignore red lights than in Boston. Literally every time I drive to and from work I see at least one car blow a red. You want to talk about helping the city’s coffers? You want to talk about danger to others? Go after the real menace to our society, the real danger. Dogs biting, howling and digging? Please. The Gazette is clearly our local cat lady.

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