Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) has dropped a bill that would have tightened up the leash law, a measure she introduced after a constituent was attacked by a dog in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
City parks have designated off-leash areas from the time the park opens until 9 a.m. and from 9 p.m. until the park closes.
The attack came after 9 p.m. when dogs are permitted to be off leash and Koslowitz drafted the bill with that in mind, but she pulled it back after residents voiced opposition.
“The office received a lot of calls from dog owners who said that this would really constrain them and their pets if the off-leash hours were taken away,” said spokesman Michael Cohen.
Dozens of calls came in.
“There were about 40 or 50,” Cohen said. “None in support of the bill.”
He said Koslowitz is looking for other ways to protect the public from unleashed dogs in parks. One idea, which was part of the dropped legislation, would have increased the number of dog runs, large fenced-in areas in parks for dogs to exercise unleashed during park hours.
Forest Hills resident Barbara Schanker, who walks her golden retriever in Juniper Valley Park every morning, learned about the proposed bill on Facebook and let Koslowitz’s office know her unhappiness. After nearly two weeks of trying to meet with the lawmaker, she was emailed back and told Koslowitz had withdrawn the bill from the City Council.
Schanker told the Chronicle that each time a dog of hers — she’s had four — has been attacked, it was at a dog run.
“People tend to be more responsible when a dog is off leash because your dog has to be well-trained, otherwise they’re going to run into the street,” she said.
The dog owners holding a leash could be careless, according to Schanker, thinking, “Well the dog’s not going to run away so I don’t have to pay attention.”
Schanker acknowledged, “There’s always going to be some people that are not responsible with their dogs and the dog may not be friendly.”
She said dogs at Juniper Valley Park are well-behaved and it is a safe park. Schanker has seen three incidents in the 18 years she has been going there.
Schanker’s first dog trainer said that “a tired dog is a very well-behaved dog” so it’s good to exercise with other dogs.
The dog owner has made friends at the park as well, saying it’s part of her social life in addition to being good for the dog.
“If you have a dog, it’s because you enjoy doing things with your dog,” Schanker said. “So this is just one more thing you’d be allowed to do.”
Schanker said she goes to Juniper Valley Park instead of Forest Park, despite the latter being closer to home, because of lighting and safety.
Forest Park saw more complaints made to 311 about unleased dogs by the end of May 2019 than in all of 2017 and 2018 combined. The 102nd Precinct told the Chronicle it would look to educate dog owners.