Editorial: Dogs as vandalism

Boston policing involves heavy targeting of “quality-of-life” crimes on the theory that squashing them prevents more serious crime. In practice, it really means targeting quality-of-life crime committed by the politically powerless, while the well-to-do are free to spoil the neighborhood.

Graffiti is a major target. The people arrested for it are usually college kids and minority teens, which is to say, people who don’t vote or make campaign contributions.

Contrast with off-leash dogs that leave excrement all over the place, dig up plants, chase people, bite other animals, and other things at least as bad as graffiti. But crackdowns never happen; Boston Animal Control’s call center isn’t even staffed on the weekends. It’s a crime widely committed by middle-class grown-ups, who do vote and do make campaign contributions.

These folks and their dogs swarm Boston parks with smug impunity. Arnold Arboretum has gone to considerable expense to install even more signs begging people to leash their dogs, and most people continue to willfully ignore them. Challenge the dog-owners, and you’re likely to get an earful of profanity and threats that would do any street tough proud.

Off-leash dogs are vandalism of our parks. Our city’s political leadership needs to show the courage to crack down on them, votes or no votes.

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