Unleashed dogs ruin our park

I am having an issue with unleashed dogs in the Wissahickon Valley Park. I walk my 30-pound, mixed breed dog on a leash here, but he and I are often terrorized by dogs running off leash. These unleashed dogs run up to us, barking and snarling, with no owner in sight. When the careless owner finally does wander up, and I ask them politely to leash their dog, I usually get an argument.

I am not a fearful person, and I have owned dogs for years. I take my rescued dogs to obedience class and have learned a few things about dog behavior, so I know how to react when they approach us. But these off-leash dogs are diminishing my ability to enjoy the park, and the rule-breaking owners need to be held accountable.

Recently, I was sitting with a friend on a park bench and an unleashed Border Collie-type dog ran up to me barking, put his paws on my lap and snarled an inch from my face. When I asked the owners to please leash their dog, they said, “Oh, he is just saying hello.” This is NOT okay, nor is it “cute.” If I weren’t someone who was experienced with dogs, I may have reacted differently and been bitten. These owners were irresponsible, showing a complete disregard for the rules as well as the feelings of a stranger who may not appreciate their dog leaping up on them. I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Another hiker who had been following them, and overheard our exchange, came up to me and said, “I am glad you said something.” Well, it’s time for more of us to say something.

The Department of Parks and Recreation of the City of Philadelphia rule for dogs throughout the Fairmount Park system states, “All dogs/pets must be on a leash of not more than six (6) feet at all times.” At all times – not when the owner feels like it.

Many of my friends who are also inconvenienced by off-leash dogs are afraid to say anything for fear of getting into an argument or even retribution. This is not right. The park is for everyone and no one has the right, through some mistaken sense of entitlement, to think that they are above the law.

Do you have the courage to speak out against dogs off-leash? Now is the time. Nike has a slogan that says, “Just do it.” I propose that all leash-law-abiding park users should have our own slogan: “Just say it: Please leash your dog!”

Be brave. Speak out. Take back our park.


Diane Clapp

Fitting tribute to ‘Queen of the Garden Railway’

Barbara Sherf’s article about Iana Turner, aka “Queen of the Garden Railway,” really captured Iana’s spirit and her energy. As someone who worked with Iana since 2005, her can-do attitude and support of marketing made her a pleasure to work with.

When the marketing department first suggested the idea of a Scarecrow Walk along the Oak Allée in Iana’s section of the garden, she was totally on board and willing to do whatever was necessary to make the new programming idea a success. Iana figured out the best way to mount the scarecrows and participated in every step of getting them into place along the Oak Allée.

It was Iana’s way to go above and beyond her duties as Horticulture Section leader. Her relationship with Applied Imagination, the landscape architects who design our Garden Railway, assured that the exhibit looked great every year, and maintained its allure with new themes and plantings surrounding the tracks and buildings. Still today, after 17 years, the Garden Railway stakes its claim as a major draw for visitors. I am among many others at the Morris Arboretum who will miss Iana!

Susan Crane

Director of Marketing

Morris Arboretum

Sheehan opinion ‘beneath’ Local

This concerns the Local’s printing of Cindy Sheehan’s rant against Chris Kyle, which appeared in her Internet article in “The Soapbox.”

Since there is nothing “local” about Californian Cindy Sheehan, it’s baffling how her hateful tirade wound up in the “LocalLife” section of the Local. Beyond that, one also wonders how Chris’s grieving family would feel upon reading Sheehan’s vile smears about their husband, son, father and brother, an American Navy Seal who gave so much for his country.

Given the Local’s usually “kinder, gentler” viewpoint and the plethora of humanity-driven articles, the gratuitous publication of that cruel hit piece appears to be beneath the dignity of the Local and counter to its standards of fairness.

Sidney Zamochnick