Thanks to the New York Sun for this article.
A Victory for City Dogs That Prefer To Run Free
By GABRIELLE BIRKNER
Staff Reporter of the Sun
A Queens County court has ruled that dogs may be exercised off-leash in city parks between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m.
Yesterday’s decision in state Supreme Court upholds the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation’s 20-year policy of allowing dogs to frolic unrestrained in parks early in the morning and late at night. It also affirms Commissioner Adrian Benepe’s authority to set off-leash hours, but urges the department to clarify this policy “known by few and misunderstood by many.”
A Western Queens community group, the Juniper Park Civic Association, in August filed a lawsuit alleging the department’s off-leash policy violates the “Leash Law” of the city’s health code. The code states that dogs must be “effectively restrained by a leash or chain not more than six feet long” while in public places.
The president of the civic association, Robert Holden, called Judge Peter Kelly’s decision “complete lunacy,” and said he was weighing an appeal. “The public outcry will be there when someone is attacked and that will happen but the parks department is willing to take the risk,” Mr. Holden said.
Mr. Benepe hailed the ruling, saying it paved the way toward formalizing an off-leash policy that “has made parks and neighborhoods safer, reduces bites, allowed responsible owners to exercise and socialize their dogs.”
He added: “Tired dogs are good dogs.”
A dog’s exercise requirements depend on its breed, age, and temperament, though many need to run for about an hour a day to avoid becoming “anxious and neurotic,” the co-director of the Humane Society of New York, Sandra DeFeo, said.
Applauding the judge’s decision yesterday were many city dog owners. “People have their children running around, but dogs in New York have very little time to be free.” the owner of a year-old West Highland Terrier named Agnus, Sydney Masters, said.
The New York City Board of Health has scheduled a December 5 vote on whether to amend its “Leash Law.”