To Leash or Not to Leash Is No Longer in Question

At the January 27 City Council meeting, City Manager Marcos Serrano called on Lt. Scott Craig to update the Council about the operation of the amended leash law for Rye Town Park.

Published February 5, 2016 8:18 PM
3 min read

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Dogleash-thAt the January 27 City Council meeting, City Manager Marcos Serrano called on Lt. Scott Craig to update the Council about the operation of the amended leash law for Rye Town Park.

By Bill Lawyer

dogposterAt the January 27 City Council meeting, City Manager Marcos Serrano called on Lt. Scott Craig to update the Council about the operation of the amended leash law for Rye Town Park.

The revised law took effect in 2015. It allows dog walkers to have their dog(s) off leash in a designated area of the park mornings from 6 to 9. Previously, the City’s leash law prohibited any dogs off-leash anywhere in Rye except the dog owner’s personal property. Many public properties prohibit dogs, even with a leash.

Under the leadership of former Councilwoman Laura Brett, a compromise was reached. The terms of the arrangement required that all dogs have a valid State license, along with a special City permit and dog tag. Dog walkers can have up to three dogs off-leash, but all must be under their control.  

For the first year, permits were issued for free, but starting this year there is a $25 fee. The details of the law, along with an application form, can be found on the homepage of the City’s website, www.ryeny.gov.

Before Lt. Craig began his presentation, Mayor Joe Sack provided background on the friction over the years between dog owners and non-dog owners at Rye Town Park.

A number of dog walkers argued that the City’s existing dog permit law should be totally repealed as it regarded Rye Town Park, which they referred to as the “dog park.” Mayor Sack noted that in order to get the Rye Town Park Commission to agree to the proposed amendment, they had to promise that the City’s police would effectively enforce it.  

Craig said that in the eight months since the amendment was put into place and the permit process established, the primary focus has been on educating park-goers.  

Signage, including a map showing the “designated area,” was installed at vehicle and pedestrian entrances and promoted via RyeTV and email blasts.  

Some dog walkers have complained that assigning a police officer at the park means that other locations around Rye are not being patrolled as well. Lt. Craig refuted this and reported that a new enforcement officer was hired to deal specifically with the dog ordinance issues.  

Lt. Craig pointed out that Rye Town Park’s unleashed dog amendment is unique in that the park is not fenced in, which causes some control problems.

Councilwoman Julie Killian said that some residents have asked why the police have to bring their car into the park, rather than patrolling on foot.

Craig replied that their car is their “office” which contains first aid equipment and many other supplies. Not having the car with them could result in delays dealing with dog problems (such as dog bites) or going to emergencies at other locations. He added that having the car visible in the park makes it easier for people to know where the police personnel are in case of an emergency.

 
Councilwoman Emily Hurd asked about the possibility of bicycle patrols rather than cars. Craig replied that this would still pose the same problem regarding access to emergency equipment, but he added that in the summer on busy occasions bicycle patrols could be used in addition to a police car.  

Ms. Hurd also noted the danger that might occur when people with small children are in the same area as dogs off-leash. Lt. Craig reassured the Council that this is being monitored and that the education and monitoring process would continue in the coming months.  

The author works part-time on development at Rye Town Park and walks his dog Max at the park every day — on a leash! 

 

 

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