Sean Walsh, President, Queens Civic Congress, (718) 225-2807
Robert Holden, President, Juniper Park Civic Association, (718) 651-5865
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(11/27/06) Citing danger, discrimination, faulty statistics, and complaints from their members, the Queens Civic Congress, Inc., an umbrella organization representing 104 civic and community groups across the borough of Queens, has expressed support for keeping dogs leashed in city parks at all times in a letter to NYC Department of Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden.
In March 2006, QCC threw its support behind the Juniper Park Civic Association's lawsuit against the Department of Parks and Recreation for their unofficial policy of allowing dog owners to unleash their dogs between the hours of 9pm and 9am in city parks lacking dog runs. This policy is in conflict with the NYC public health code which states that all dogs must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet in all public areas at all times.
In order to circumvent a negative outcome in the court case in which a judge's ruling is soon expected to be handed down, the Department of Parks asked the Department of Health to consider revising the leash law to grant the Parks Commissioner the authority to designate off-leash areas outside of dog runs.
On November 12th, 2006, the QCC sent a letter to Commissioner Thomas Frieden explaining their position. The letter asks Dr. Frieden to vote against revising the leash law, as there are some serious questions about inconsistencies in DOH's dog population, license and bite statistics. It also asks for a further exploration of the impact that such a revision in the health code would have on the health and safety of park patrons.
"Our constituency has made it clear to us that the majority of Queens residents are not in favor of this policy," said Sean Walsh, president of the Queens Civic Congress in the letter. "Many of our neighbors no longer use our parks and many park volunteers have stopped doing the great work they do because of the intimidating presence of off-leash dogs."
The Department of Health is scheduled to vote on the matter at a public meeting on Tuesday, December 5th, 2006.
A copy of the letter sent to Dr. Frieden is here.