Although some things have improved in Bare Cove Park lately, more-stringent regulations and consequences have been imposed for unruly dogs and their unaware owners.
Bare Cove Park Committee Chair Patti Coyle has been pushing for restrictions at the park after having numerous dog issues – mainly relating to dog waste -- during the summer months.
Thus, in early September, Coyle asked permission to put a two-foot by two-foot sign at the entrances of Bare Cove Park, reading “Pick Up After Your Dog, And Take It With You.”
This past Tuesday, Coyle sat in front of selectmen again, this time with a different sign, different rules, and new fines to go along with them.
According to the new regulations, dogs must be leashed upon entrance or exit to the park, must wear current rabies tags, dog waste must be picked up, the owner must carry a leash, dogs must be in control and within sight at all times, and dogs may not trespass on private property.
Furthermore, dogs may not disturb other park visitors, neighbors, or wildlife. Breaking a rule is a $50 fine. The fines are cumulative, and apply for each dog involved in an incident.
It’s all in an effort the keep dogs under control, Coyle said.
“People in surrounding towns seem to forget that Bare Cove Park isn’t an extension of their backyards,” Coyle said. “We felt [these regulations were] really important. We’ve been telling people for years Bare Cove Park is not a dog park, it’s a sanctuary… and our rules will not affect the good dog owners.”
Coyle said the rules stemmed from surveying other towns and looking into their regulations, and said these rules are in line with others.
Although the committee had not received permission, the signs have been up since mid-January. But already, they have been working, Coyle said.
“They don’t want to lose the privilege of walking off leash in Bare Cove Park,” Coyle said. “We believe the $50 fines will make people pay attention, and we think it will make them think twice before they take a chance.”
Selectmen seemed to think the new signage, which spelled out more stringent regulations and fine penalties, was a good idea, with chair John Riley saying it was “a step in the right direction.”
However, one audience member took exception to the fact that the signs were up before they had received town approval. He also disagreed with a mandate for rabies tags.
“I think we’re skirting the state law by requiring a rabies tag. They are not mandatory if I’m walking my dog on the street,” said Hingham resident John Hersey.
Hersey also complained about the lack of signage at all of the park’s entrances – which means people could be fined without even knowing they had entered the rule-ridden park.
Despite his objections, selectmen unanimously approved the new regulations. Any tickets will be handed out by the Animal Control Officer or by the Police Department. Fines collected will go into the town’s general fund.
Selectmen did ask Coyle to look into signage for any remaining entrances, and said the town would look into the issue of rabies tag mandates. However, even if it’s not state law “the Bare Cove Park committee has right to submit any rules they seem fit,” Riley said.