by Julia DeGregorio

In response to recent dog attacks in Pastorius Park, the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation services has compiled a comprehensive, educational pamphlet about dog laws that will be distributed in city parks.

The Department of Parks and Recreation reached out to the Friends of Pastorius Park and well as all other city park groups to distribute the flyer and heighten awareness regarding the leash laws.

The pamphlet states that all dogs must be on a 6-foot leash when outside of the owner’s place of residence. Anyone who goes to Pastorius Park, however,  knows that this mandate is not followed and is widely ignored.

Alain Joinville, of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, believes that this is a result of lack of education regarding the laws and that the increased awareness will help alleviate the problem.

“When one person allows their dog to go off leash, it lets other dog owners think it’s okay to do the same,” Joinville said.

Joinville and the rest of his department are working to change this collective mindset among dog owners in the park.

Parks and Recreation also will be sending two people to the Chestnut Hill Community Association meeting on April 20 to further inform dog owners and park goers on proper usage of the park.

“We are providing guidelines on how to best interact in the parks,” Joinville  said.

Currently, the park has explicit signs that remind park-goers of the laws regarding dogs, which makes it unclear whether the pamphlets will be effective.

The question comes down to policing of the area and who is responsible for ensuring that all dogs are on leashes and that those who break the law are fined.

The 14th Police District is not able to disclose how often the area is patrolled. Captain John L. Hearn, however, wants to make it clear that this is an issue his officers care about.

“If the community is adversely affected by the behavior of the people who allow their dogs free rein when frequenting the park, it is a pressing matter,” he said.

Hearn also urged residents to read and understand the law and simply be respectful of others in the park. Failure to comply with the law could result in a Code Violation Notice, which is similar to a parking ticket, or seizure of the dog by Animal Control if the owner is not present.

“Mutual respect and courtesy for one another would alleviate this issue at Pastorius Park, and, unfortunately, we cannot teach that,” Hearn said.

The Animal Care and Control Team (ACCT) has the authority to issue tickets and enforce the leash laws in Philadelphia. According to their website, they will respond to complaints, but it is not clear whether or not they will proactively patrol a location with a history of complaints.

ACCT accepts complaints at  267-385-3800 or by email at fieldservices@acctphilly.org.

ACCT did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

It has been suggested by many Chestnut Hill residents that the addition of a fenced-in area for dogs would solve the problem. For a fenced-in “dog run” to come into existence in Pastorius Park, a proposal would have to be submitted online by an organized committee. The proposal must have widespread support by the community as a whole and elected officials and have proper community funding. Further guidelines can be viewed on the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation website.

There are a number of “dog runs” in the surrounding area for dog owners who wish to let their pets run off leash. The one closest to the Chestnut Hill area is Manayunk Park, at 4300 Silverwood St. Dog owners could also buy a membership to the Roxborough Dog Park at 4117 Mitchell St. for an annual fee of $20 a dog.

Julia Rose DeGrogorio is Temple University journalism student and an intern at the Local.

 

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