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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Police to Increase Enforcement of Leash Law on Community Path & How Residents Can Help!

After hearing two separate accounts of cyclist interactions with unleashed dogs on the Community Path, chairman of the Public Health and Public Safety Committee, Bill White, has asked the Police Department to increase enforcement of the leash law using both uniformed and plain-clothes officers.

Deputy Mike Cabral noted that the path receives constant attention from the police department with both directed patrols and walk throughs-all of which are recorded. Enforcement, it seems, was very different as he mentioned that no fines were issued to owners by either police or the animal control officer.

Resident attendees pointed out the existence of a core group of dog owners congregating across from Lexington Park who allow their dogs to run the length of the path unleashed, unattended and unsupervised, posing a threat to walkers, runners and cyclists. There was no mention of specific breeds or sizes posing more or less of a threat, but that the amount of dogs has drastically increased over the years. There can be upwards of a dozen dogs running unleashed on the path at one time.

Non-attendees of the meeting (who also own dogs and responsibly leash, license and pick up after them) admitted avoiding walking down the path at certain hours because of the large number of unleashed K-9s. The high points of unleashed activity seems to occur during rush hour times in the morning from 7am-10am and evenings from 4pm-7pm with this extending to 8 or 8:30pm as the days get longer.

Residents Can Help!
One of the most noticeable shortfalls of enforcement is the inconsistent and “off peak” presence of the animal control officer and/or police department. Residents with mobile phones featuring the 311 App (311 can also be called at 617-666-3311) can report unleashed dogs on site, time and date stamped offering enforcers a great timeline to go by to make issuing citations more efficient and cost effective. I highly encourage the use of this service to alleviate this problem and prevent a more serious issue from happening.

This issue brings to light a larger problem which is a lack of open space for unleashed dogs. In previous meetings about the extension of the Community Path from Cedar to Lowell Street, numerous residents expressed a desire to have a fenced off-leash area for dogs, however, at the most recent 25% design meeting this feature was not included. Resident attendees, myself included, went on record to advocate for an off-leash area, but only time will tell if it becomes a reality.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nothing new about problems with some dog owners in Somerville. The problems are not limited to the bike path.

City parks and playgrounds that are posted with "no dogs allowed" signs mean nothing to some dog owners.....both on-leash and off-leash. Plus,some pick-up, some do not. Is either case, dog urine is left behind in grass areas where children often play.

I have seen dog owners in parks with their dogs while DPW workers are present. Workers say nothing to the dog owners.
Likewise, I have seen a policeman, in a "posted" park, petting a dog while talking to the dog's owner. The policeman leaves the park and the owner and her dog is allowed to remain in the park.

Trum Field, for one, is posted "no dogs sllowed" is often visited by dog owners---on leash and off leash.
Oftentimes in day light hours where they can be easily seen by workers in the DPW building and seen by drivers of city vehicles coming and going... with no action taken.

To say nothing about dog owners not picking up on city sidewalks.

It's true city employees, policemen, and the animal control officer cannot be stationed 24/7 at each and every park in the city; but, particulary with policemen and city DPW workers, when a dog owner is seen violating "posted" signs barring dogs, it should be enforced when a violation is observed, and the owner should be ticketed!

The dog population in Somerville has increasedly grown in the last several years; it's time for city officials and workers to drop the hammer on dog owners who openly choose not to do the right thing.