Letter: Gazette is wrong to criticize off-leash dog-walkers

It is the season of the off-leash-dog-bashing editorials again in the JP Gazette. (“Unleash the dog-walking talk,” June 7.) I shake my head in utter amazement at the regularity (and repetitiveness) of these rants. JP is home to so much green space—more than any other part of Boston—yet, if dog owners dare to let their dogs run free (OMG) everyone needs to call the animal patrol.

The argument, as I see it, is simply that, “It’s the law.” Yet, I would venture to say that 100 percent of the drivers in our wonderful city ignore speed limits at some point each day. The point being that we all do what we think is “acceptable” within the eyes of the law. That might mean letting a dog run free in the early morning on a ball field before any games start—or driving over 30 m.p.h. on the Jamaicaway. Of course, there are those who will speed far beyond what is acceptable, and there are those who will let their dogs soil and not clean up. Everything in moderation. JP Gazette, that includes your editorials on those unruly dog owners who let their dogs run free. To blithely state that the answer is in a few off-leash parks is folly at best. In all of Boston there are three off-leash parks. Three. Currently, I’ve been involved with trying to start a new one—and at even the basic level of initiating the process we’ve encountered push-back.

So, next time you find yourself reaching for your phone to call Animal Control because you spy someone playing ball with their dog off-leash, ask yourself if you followed every law that day. Did you drive the speed limit?  Did you pay “use tax” on that Internet purchase? Did you follow all the traffic rules while riding your bike? I suspect that in every instance you’ll find the answer to be “no.” Reserve those phone calls for truly egregious acts—not just the ones that will make you feel morally superior while being hypocritical.

Ken Pope

Jamaica Plain

4 comments for “Letter: Gazette is wrong to criticize off-leash dog-walkers

  1. Jeff Walker
    July 4, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    I agree there should be more off leash dog parks. However, I kindly urdge my neighbors to leash your dog, not because it is the law, but because it is courtesy for fellow community members. Some people are afraid of dogs. Some people like to jog and a dog off leash dogs do not always know when or where to move for a runner. Some people have small children who are afraid of dogs. If you want your dog to run, run with your dog on a leash. Or buy a long lease. I am a dog owner and dog lover. Leashing your dog is about being a respectful neighbor.

  2. djg58
    July 1, 2013 at 11:50 am

    It is high time we had a more nuanced discussion and approach to dog parks, off leash dog areas and responsible dog ownership. Off leash play areas for dogs and dog parks are for the people who own them as much as they are for the dogs. Dog owners are part of the community who pay taxes and want to be able to walk and exercise with their dogs. Research has shown that owning a dog improves peoples overall physical and mental health. Additionally, the presence of dog owners in parks helps decrease crime as dog owners are out and about at all times of the day and evening. As noted in the Gazette’s article in this edition, Boston is far behind other cities across the country in developing dog parks and off leash dog areas for our citizens.

  3. June 24, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    I dislike a society that is increasingly being nudged toward snitching, with all the rewards and propaganda … “How am I driving? Call 1-800-xxx” or “See something? Say something!” or such. Now even Obama, with his insider threats program, is making it mandatory for federal agencies to implement snitching programs in their own workforces.

  4. Kevin Handly
    June 22, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Hear hear! The Boston leash law is one of the most ignorant on the books. It lumps all dogs and all dog owners together and assumes they are both vicious and irresponsible. It betrays a total disregard of the range of different dogs’ needs, trainings and behaviors, or dog owners’ levels of concern and responsiiblity and many positive contributions to the maintenance and security of our parks and public walkways. The Boston leash law polarizes our community and encourages contempt for and noncompliance with the law. Dogs and dog walkers are out in our parks and sidewalks everyday, rain, snow, sleet or shine, twice or three times a day, picking up litter of all kinds and deterring vandalism and crime. The law needs to reasonably accommodate dogs’ and dog owners’ needs. Confining them to closed-in pens is clearly not the right answer. The Gazette should shift its approach to highlighting problems and exploring potential solutions in a way that unites rather than divides our community.

    Kevin Handly

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