Barefoot in the Park? Don't Try It! - JuniperCivic.com
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Barefoot in the Park? Don't Try It!

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A familiar site in Queens parks.

I recently took my 7-year old son to Crocheron Park in Bayside to toss around a football. I was teaching him the buttonhook when the game was called on account of dog crap.

The little guy stepped in a pile that enveloped one of his brand new sneakers.

When I ran to make sure he didn't touch it, I stepped in a different pile of crap.

I barked the appropriate synonym.

We looked around and the entire hill ascending from Golden Pond was carpet-bombed with dog droppings. The football was also smeared with dog feces.

Who let the dogs out to defecate all over our parks?

Judge Peter Kelly, Parks Department Commissioner Adrian Benepe and Health Department Commissioner Thomas Frieden, that's who.

Almost every time I walk through Crocheron Park, I encounter an unleashed dog ‒ German Shepherd, Doberman or some other four-legged turd factory ‒ sprinting straight at me for a sniff and a growl.

And this is during afternoon hours when it's illegal for dogs to be unleashed in a city park.

There's no relief.

City cops in the terror age don't have time for shaggy dog stories. And since there are only 53 park enforcement officers for 1,700 city parks, you're um, spit out of luck.

For 20 years, starting with the weird Henry Stern, right up to this Benepe, the Parks Department has allowed dogs to run loose through our city parks from 9pm to 9am, as if they owned the night.

But this policy was always in violation of Department of Health ordinance 161.05 requiring dogs to be on a leash at all times. So last year, the Juniper Park Civic Association took the Parks Department to court, demanding that they comply with the law.

Instead, in December of last year, Queens Supreme Court Justice Kelly ruled that the Parks Department had the right to let dogs run free.

To add to the madness, and in violation of their mission statement of protecting the public from harm and disease, the Department of Health changed their rule to match the Parks Department's crazy unofficial rule.

"It's lunacy," says Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association. "How can you say it's okay for dogs to run free at 8:59am but illegal a minute later at 9a.m.? We have kids, joggers, and elderly people in the parks in the early morning.

"And there are dangerous pit bulls, rottweilers, German shepherds running loose! One morning, I saw a young boy, about 3, backed against a fence by a big growling dog, which to him must have looked like a dinosaur!

"Three years ago, a woman named Tatiana Grant was attacked by a large unleashed dog while rollerblading through Juniper Park. Last June 8, a Rottweiler ripped apart the arm of Matthew Connolly, who walked his little dog on a leash in Principe Park."

Benepe told the Daily News last December, "For the last two decades, this policy has made parks and neighborhoods safer, reduced bites and allowed responsible owners to exercise and socialize their dogs. Tired dogs are good dogs."

And idiotic commissioners are bad commissioners.

Look, I have nothing against dogs. It's the people who are the selfish pigs. What the judge and the parks commissioner are also missing, and what the health department dangerously ignores, is that many of the owners who let their dogs run free do not clean up after them.

It's nighttime in the woods, guys!

There's no one around to enforce the pooper scooper law. Even responsible dog owners couldn't possibly locate a poochpile in the night when Fido runs 300 yards into the meadow. It'd be like finding a golf ball in a blizzard.

But there is the next day, when my kid runs for a long one.

Thousands of dogs are running loose and defecating all over the lawns, meadows and green spaces of our city where we picnic and our children play.

Each pile of feces contains billions of coliform bacteria that can cause E. coli, salmonella and giardia in humans.

If a child catches a feces-smeared ball and inadvertently puts his dirty hands to his mouth, he can swallow roundworm larvae which hatch in the intestines, migrate through the body tissue and cause liver enlargement and high fever.

"I fear this insane policy won't change until some kid is mauled to death," says Holden. "Or until kids start getting sick from feces. Mark my words."

Last week, I took my kid back to Crocheron Park, this time to the enclosed Little League diamonds which I figured even the most obnoxious dog owner would consider a Depooperized Zone.

My son ran for a short pass.

I threw the ball.

He stopped short.

The outfield was a disgraceful turd farm.

Good tired doggie!

I had to take my kid home because some mutt judge and a pair of flea-bitten city commissioners let the dogs out.