Off-leash dog area planned at Franklin Park

The Franklin Park Coalition (FPC) is making efforts to create off-leash dog areas and times for park users and their canine friends, pending City approval.

At a May 15 community meeting, first announced at FPC’s annual meeting in April according to FPC Executive Director Christine Poff, 20 community members discussed options for off-leash dogs, including designated areas and times. Poff said she looked at New York City and other locations with functioning off-leash dog accommodations for inspiration and presented her findings as jumping off points for the community to discuss.

“[The push for off-leash accommodations] is going on across the city. Everyone is wanting to see what we do here,” Poff said at the meeting. Any course chosen by FPC would need to be approved by City Parks and Recreation and possibly the City Council.

“I think we’re all motivated to make it work,” dog owner Lisa Lewis said at the meeting.

“The Boston Parks and Recreation Commission would be pleased to hear about such proposals,” City Parks and Recreation spokesperson Jacquelyn Goddard told the Gazette. “At this time, no proposal has been received from the Franklin Park Coalition. Any group proposing a dog recreation area on park property must go through the application process.”

The FPC discussion was prompted by two separate incidents where police officers drew their weapons but did not fire in the face of off-leash dogs.

Consensus at the meeting was reached on creating one full-time off-leash area in a corner of the Wilderness by Cemetery Road, and a part-time off-leash area near the bear dens in the Long Crouch Woods. The full-time area is currently not planned to be fenced in. There was some discussion on, but no decision to, enforce existing leash laws for dogs not in designated areas or during off times.

The part-time off-leash area would be limited to off-peak times, though exact hours are still not finalized. All off-leash dog owners and walkers would be limited to no more than three dogs per person.

The group also agreed to only allow people to take their dogs off-leash after proving that the dogs are under voice command control, a program called “Green Dogs.” Those that have been approved by the FPC would buy a green badge to prove their competency. Dog-walking businesses would also have to pay for those badges, though at increased rates.

Poff also welcomed the suggestion of creating an online index of approved dogs and their owners on the FPC website, for easy identification of off-leash dogs.

There currently are no state-wide laws mandating that dogs be leashed in all public areas, but there are city ordinances that require dogs in public areas to be leashed. There is a city ordinance that allows for community-created off-leash dog areas, as long as those areas do not diminish the quality of already-established public areas and are approved by the City.

Correction: Due to a reporter error, this article has been edited to correct the date the community meeting was announced.

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