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Dog wars may intensify in the spring

Posted by Tom Coakley  March 9, 2009 08:56 AM

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By Lisa Keen, Globe Correspondent

Paul Cramer used to have a dog – Alice, a mutt. A friend had found the dog on the side of the road in Texas , abandoned and caught up in some barb-wired. The friend brought the dog to Cramer, who readily adopted it. After many years, Alice passed on and now circumstances are such that Cramer can’t have a dog. But he’s not anti-dog.

Neither is Heidi Gross, who has two dogs.

But both Gross and Cramer say they have felt the scorn of many dog lovers in Wellesley because they sit on the town’s Natural Resources Commission. That five-member commission recently enacted a new regulation restricting when dogs can play off-leash at one of the town’s smallest public fields, Perrin Park.

Cramer and Gross survived a re-election challenge last week from two citizens who believe the Perrin dog regulations are unfair to dog owners. But the controversy, they say, is not going away. In fact, they expect it to worsen later this month.

That’s because on March 31, the Commission is set to re-examine the new regulation it put in place following a February 7 public hearing on the matter. That regulation allows dog owners to let their canines play off-leash at Perrin Park from 7 to 9:30 a.m. in the morning and from 3 to 5:30 p.m. in the afternoon.

The policy represents a compromise from tougher leash law regulations at the park.

But come spring, the Department of Public Works is expected to close sections of the park to allow for maintenance and the longer daylight hours are expected to increase traffic. So the Natural Resources Commission has said it would revisit the policy.

Vernon Ellinger, one of two challengers for a commission seat, said he hopes they keep the current compromise.

The compromise has solved every rational objection that’s been made” about dogs in the park, said Ellinger. And he questions the real motives behind the objections.

“I think it’s just some [park abutters] trying to make this a private space,” said Ellinger. “And I think if the commissioners would just go out there, they’d see that.” Ellinger said most people who take their dogs to the park live in the area; and many are elderly and can’t easily get to and use other parks.

But Cramer said, “The compromise will probably change. You can’t have off-leash dogs while lacrosse and soccer games are going on. Plus the animal control officer prefers dogs on leash.”

In fact, Wellesley’s existing overall regulation calls for dogs to be on leash –or under control by voice command—at all times on public property.

“It’s not just about the dogs,” said Cramer. “Wellesley’s a crowded town. There’s not a lot of open space, and we’ve got to discuss how to use it, and use by dogs needs to be restricted so it can be used by others.”

The Commission is set to continue its discussion of Perrin Park in particular at its next regularly scheduled meeting, this Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall.

“We will have to deal with this issue on an ongoing basis,” predicted Gross. “The doggies are going to be news for some time to come.”


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5 comments so far...
  1. I don't have a car, let along a mini-van or SUV - do you know what having to walk all the way across town to the dog -friendly park does to my pads -- to say nothing of how it wrecks my nails.

    Now my walker is an old guy -- but fortunately, the town has shown some consideration for human seniors by erecting porta-potties in front of the under-construction McMansions. So at least the prostate-challenged in town will get some relief when they walk around.

    And think of what picking up dog pooh and putting it in little baggies is doing to lose all the color from our language. The kids of today don't use watches with dials, so they do not have a clue when you say a quarter to three -- you have to say 2:45. Now what will happen to the barnyard expression for lucky fella: "He stepped in s--- and came up smelling like a rose" And this is just the beginning of the end of dog-related expressions... as in the answer to the perennial question about male dog behavior ... , "Because he can."

    Woofingly yours,
    Rover

    Posted by Rover March 9, 09 04:02 PM
  1. I don't have a car, let along a mini-van or SUV - do you know what having to walk all the way across town to the dog -friendly park does to my pads -- to say nothing of how it wrecks my nails.

    Now my walker is an old guy -- but fortunately, the town has shown some consideration for human seniors by erecting porta-potties in front of the under-construction McMansions. So at least the prostate-challenged in town will get some relief when they walk around.

    And think of what picking up dog pooh and putting it in little baggies is doing to lose all the color from our language. The kids of today don't use watches with dials, so they do not have a clue when you say a quarter to three -- you have to say 2:45. Now what will happen to the barnyard expression for lucky fella: "He stepped in s--- and came up smelling like a rose" And this is just the beginning of the end of dog-related expressions... as in the answer to the perennial question about male dog behavior ... , "Because he can."

    Woofingly yours,
    Rover

    Posted by Rover March 10, 09 06:17 AM
  1. I believe it is time for Wellesley a full leash law before someone is badly injured. Far too many times a walk down to Morses Pond has a resulted in an encounter with a dog off its leash running hellbent towards me with the owner ineffectively yelling at the dog. I have no idea how the dog will behave so I prepare to be attacked each time. I'm sure a small child hit full on by a Lab or Golden weighing well over 50 pounds could suffer real harm. If not be traumatized. The Town has some strange priorities, and this is one of the strangest. To give dogs rights over humans. Who knows if that dog coming for you will lick your face or bite it.

    Posted by Steven March 11, 09 03:58 PM
  1. I find it interesting that Mr. Ellinger continues to say that "it's just some park abutters trying to make the park a private space" when well over 200 families in town have written to the NRC in support of the leash law at Perrin citing the negative impact of the number of dogs in that small park.
    Sincerely,
    Michael

    Posted by Michael Fitzgerald March 12, 09 12:39 PM
  1. Mr. Fitzgerald
    Well said. I don't abut the park and I support the leash law at Perrin. And, I have a dog!!

    Posted by DD March 16, 09 04:28 PM