Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It is Time For a Dog Run In Juniper Park

Let's not let Robert Holden and his band of rat lovers prevent the community of Middle Village from getting the dog run it needs. Juniper Valley Park belongs to all of us and we should ensure that all segments of the community benefit from the beautiful open green space. Robert Holden has already taken the new ballfields from our two-legged children so we also let him disappoint our four-legged friends. Dog owners unite!

Dog Runs and Dog Parks

Many communities throughout the United States now have safe, legal and enclosed dog runs (and dog parks) where friendly, well-behaved puppies and dogs can play together off-leash. As a founding member of The New York City Coalition For Dogs (a group which was formed in 1989 to address a variety of dog-related issues or concern to dog owners), I have for years been actively involved in establishing official, city-recognized dog runs throughout New York City. When I first became involved in campaigning for dog runs and dog play areas, I was the Vice President of the only legal, city-recognized dog run in Manhattan (New York City): the Mercer Houston Dog Run Association.

There are now at least twelve such places throughout Manhattan (as of the time of this writing). In some states, there are actually entire Dog Parks where dog owners can go to exercise their dogs off leash!Benefits Of A Dog Run Some of the many benefits of enclosed dog runs/dog parks include:

Puppies and adult dogs have a safe(r), enclosed place to play.

Enclosed play areas prevent off-leash dogs from infringing on the rights of other community residents and park users such as joggers, small children, and those who may be fearful of dogs.
By their mere presence, groups of dog owners (and their dogs) help deter crime, and frequently act as the eyes and ears for the police.

A well-exercised dog is a happier and healthier dog.

An exercised dog makes a better next door neighbor than an under-exercised dog. Puppies and dogs which get enough exercise by playing in a dog run, are less likely to create a nuisance, bark excessively, destroy property, jump on passers-by, etc.

In an era where people are often reluctant or afraid to approach or converse with a complete stranger, dog runs bring people together and create a greater sense of community. Dogs help shy people "break the ice". People's love for dogs often creates an important common ground, which as if by magic, serves to break down otherwise impenetrable social and economic barriers. Dogs (and dog runs) are in fact responsible for many a lasting friendship between those who might never otherwise have met.

Recommended Dog Run Rules

Members of the dog run and/or community representatives should establish and enforce reasonable health and safety rules for the dog run, such as the following:

Puppies and dogs must be properly inoculated, be healthy (have no contagious conditions or diseases), and be parasite-free (both internally and externally).

To help prevent dog fights, owners are encouraged to inquire about any dogs already in the run which are unfamiliar to them, prior to entering the run. Observing dogs' body language is also recommended.

No dogs known to be aggressive towards other dogs or people (or exhibiting any threatening behavior) may enter the run.

No bitches in heat may enter the run at any time.

Owners must clean up after their dogs.

Owners are asked to closely supervise their dogs, and at no time should an owner leave the run without their dog(s).

If the dog run is located near local residences, hospitals, schools or libraries, owners should discourage their dogs from barking excessively. This is especially important prior to 10AM and after 9PM.

Parents must refrain from bringing toddlers and small children into the run. Parents are strongly discouraged from bringing children less than 12 years of age. Children should at no time be allowed to run with or chase after dogs in the dog run.

Do not bring rawhide or food into the dog run as dogfights may result.

For safety reasons, please remove pinch (prong) and spike collars from your dog prior to entering the dog run. Many dogs and puppies have been injured by playing with another dog who was wearing a pinch collar. A basic flat buckle collar (with city license, Rabies and identification tags) is recommended.

How to Establish a Successful Dog Run in Your Community
If you are interested in establishing a dog run or dog park in your community, here are some of the recommended steps:

Begin by contacting neighborhood dog owners and dog-related clubs, associations, and organizations in your area.

Post, mail and distribute notices with relevant dog run information. (Recommended destinations include: neighborhood bulletin boards, pet supply stores, animal hospitals & clinics, groomers, etc.)

Organize community residents to contact (write letters, sign petitions, e-mail, and telephone)your community representatives, parks department officials and media, favoring the idea of establishing dog runs in your area, and asking for their support. Letters should be brief, polite and articulate.

Write and e-mail all local newspapers, including weekly "freebies". List several reasons that a dog run will benefit your community (including the non-dog-owning public). Include information about already existing dog runs in other communities/states.

Seek out endorsements from local veterinarians, community leaders, and celebrities who support your cause.

Encourage dog owners and other dog run supporters to attend and speak up at community board and community affairs meetings. Pro dog run buttons and flyers are recommended.
Don't give up! It took us (The NYC Coalition for Dogs) more than three years of active campaigning to get the Washington Square Park Dog Run approved by community board members, park department officials and other relevant community representatives! When I first began petitioning for a dog run in Washington Square Park (in Greenwich Village, downtown Manhattan) I was told by a prominent community board member that I was wasting my time, and that I would NEVER succeed in getting a dog run in Washington Square Park. Famous last words!

© copyright Robin Kovary, 1996


Be-Holden to No One said...

If we remember back to early 2006, the JPCA executive board, slavishly following Herr Holden's dictum sputtered to the New York Times: "Tell me why our park has to become a dog toilet," initiated a costly and failed lawsuit against the Parks Department.

Back then there were repeated calls for a dog run to be built in Juniper Valley Park, which for several years previously was a Designated Off-leash Area under the City's then unofficial 9pm-9am off-leash hours policy in selected parks.

Many people, in all weather, all days of the year recreate with their dogs in Juniper Valley park. The before 9am off-leash rules are wonderful, but many dog owners desire more convenient times to use the park, such as people who don't work standard hours or who would also like to recreate with their dogs in the park after work, or who, like the other 50+ parks in NYC, would like an enclosed area for off-leash recreation.

The JPCA executive board chose to "go to war" against the hundreds of Middle Village residents who own dogs and then the rest of the City in Holden's failed attempt to teach Parks Commissioner Benepe a lesson about who controls Juniper Valley Park (hint: Bob Holden thinks he does). The JPCA executive board spent over $10,000.00 of the civic's money to pursue a failed lawsuit in an attempt to end the 20+ year successful city-wide off-leash hours policy. Holden and cohorts were trying their best to eliminate any time of off-leash recreation in Juniper Valley park, and in the process take it away from the 87 other parks around the city.

Fortunately, the Grinch was not able to steal Christmas. Instead what happened was:

1) The JPCA completely lost their court case. The judge even went of his way in the opinion to critize Holden's intelligence.

2) The NYC Board of Health unanimously amended the City Health Code to explicitly permit the Parks commissioner to allow a city-wide limited off-leash hours policy.

3) The NYC Parks Department, after 20 years of an un-official off-leash hours policy codifies the policy on the books.

Ironically, in their failed attempt to hurt NYC dog owners, the JPCA executive board, facing quite a backfire in its face, did what dog owning advocates were unable to do for decades; that is, formally codify off-leash policy. Thank you to the executive board gang at the JPCA for helping with this. Couldn't have done it without you. Drink toasts are still being raised to your folly, hubris and incompetence!

So here we go again. It's two years later, and the community still desires a dog run. And the JPCA executive board still thinks they speak for the community.

Fortunately in the two year interim, Holden was unceremoniously demoted from CB vice chairman by his fellow board colleagues, and we have some new elected officials who were supported by voters who value animal/people issues.

One anti-dog run person who identifies himself/herself online as "Christina" is trying to take pre-emptive action against the dog park by claiming that dog parks in Queens are failures.

I wonder if the thousands of users of the 50+ dog runs throughout NYC would agree? Perhaps "Christina" is implying that people in Queens have some innate failing that they don't deserve a dog park.

Some of the most popular, well attended, and centers of neighborhood life are dog parks all over this City. Witness Thompkins Square in Manhattan, Dyker Heights in Brooklyn, Silver Lake Park in Staten Island, the dog run in Van Cortlandt Park, or Freedom Run in Whitestone. There's clearly a large core group of dog owners who for the past few years have shown their commitment to Juniper Valley park by volunteering for the park (and other causes), and keeping the area they use in good shape. So even though dog owner, unlike other park users, must maintain their own park activities with their own labor and often money is the case, the dog owners in Middle Village over the years have proven themselves as responsible park users and community activists.

The same "Christina" says there's just no money for a dog run. Of course, there's been over $2.1 million so that Holden can have his locked ballfields. "Oh, but users pay fees to use that ballfield", claims Christina the apologist. LOL. It will take a millennium for users to pay back even half of the cost of Holden's locked fiefdom in Juniper Valley Park. Nice try.

You see, oddly enough, in NYC, even though the Parks department funds and maintains with our tax dollars Parks project such as playgrounds, basketball courts, bocce courts, skating rinks, tennis courts, and of course multi-million dollar locked ballfields that lay fallow and unused for at least 1/3 of the year, in NYC, dog owners, who are the largest activity-specific park users, must maintain their dog runs, and also partially fund their creation, maintenance and renovation.

Why is that?

We're not here to debate this gross inequity now; that is for another day, but the canard that the Parks Department can't afford to build or maintain a dog park in Juniper is complete nonsense.

Let's see what other desperate excuses they can come up with to prevent an insult to their self-inflicted injury.

Anonymous said...

There are dogs runs in every great park in the city . Central,Union Prospect , why not Juniper. I have meet some people who re new to our area and they have asked me why there isn't a dog run in Juniper. I just refer them to Lizzy let her do something about this, screw Holden. There should be one. I'm not even a dog owner.