Leash-free time for dogs won’t work at Pastorius Park

Thank you to Joe Brown and Tracy Gardner, for their measured and thoughtful insights and suggestions about dog use in Pastorius Park. This is topic has certainly provoked quite a conversation. [Local. June 29]

While I did enjoy Joe’s well written letter, he (and others) seem not to realize when making suggestions for hours of off-leash dog use, that there are homes with people living in them immediately surrounding the park on all sides, and that Pastorius Park isn’t in the middle of a sprawling complex of ball fields.

Pastorius Park is our back (and front) yard. I would like to suggest that Joe please invite dogs to his backyard between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 a.m.and see how he feels about it after about a week.  I will buy him a drink at the bar of his choice in Chestnut Hill if he thinks that it was “just great.”

And I am assuming that Joe must not be from Philadelphia or he would know that ranting on the Internet and other venues and having shouting matches in the park is a time honored, much loved tradition here.

This isn’t about Hillers being more “super” responsible or somehow better than those from outside of Chestnut Hill.  It more pertains to the fact that someone (if already inclined to be uncaring) who drives back to their community in Wyndmoor or Blue Bell doesn’t really have to care the same way about our community or neighbors if their dog barks incessantly for three hours straight or knocked someone over while they sit on a bench and smoke and ignore their dog   because they have no physical or emotional investment in this community or with the people living here.

They come. They poop. They leave. They don’t have to run into the neighbor that their dog jumped on when at the block party the next day, or at the hardware store every week, or need help from that same neighbor when shoveling out their sidewalk the next winter.  And, most people from Chestnut Hill stopped walking their dogs in Pastorius Park long ago because of the volume of and aggressiveness of the dogs there, including me.

Having a designated leash-free dog time in the park is a wonderful idea – in theory. But then there is that pesky enforcement issue to contend with again: Who will enforce the designated leash-free dog times and check dog registrations to be sure that they are current? Private security patrols hired by Fairmount Park?  The dog owners themselves? Special police personnel assigned solely to Pastorius Park? Bwahahaha. Enough said. Really.

Jeanne Andrews
Chestnut Hill

  • JoeB

    Glad you enjoyed my letter Jeanne, I wanted to clarify a few things.

    First, as I mentioned in my letter, I do indeed live in Philadelphia – for the better part of 20 years. The last few of which, I have lived very close to Pastorious (1 block away). I walk through the park daily, on my way to drop off and pick up my kids from school & daycare. I often pickup trash and remind people of the leash law.

    I totally sympathize with your sentiment, I really do. However, what your letter is lacking is a solution. Although I believe the ideal outcome (for me at least) is strict adherence to the leash law, based on the history here, I don’t think that is realistic.

    What I (and others) have proposed – a daily 6am-9am off leash window – may limit the number of dogs at the park. For example, if I live in Montgomery county, having a restricted window might deter me from ever going because it might not fit within my schedule. Of course your comment about enforcement is true… that needs to happen regardless of what direction we go.

    Another benefit of an “allowed time” is that it more clearly communicates that other times are “not allowed”. I believe this concession will sway many dog owners to follow the rules.

    Another alternative which has been suggested is a dog enclosure, which I think is a very bad idea. That will greatly increase dog traffic (wear&tear) to the park (not decrease) and does little to protect smaller dogs. As an added aside, it also flys in the face of the parks vision as a quiet place of reflection.

    As far as the age old tradition of yelling and shouting… i’m totally keeping it alive…

    While at Pastorius the other day I saw a man with 2 pitt bulls off leash. When I approached him and politely reminded him that all dogs need to be on a leash he said “oh I know, I don’t care”. I told him that my kid was knocked into the pond a while ago by an off leash dog. He responded “then you should keep your kid on a leash”. I got angry and took a picture of him and then he said he was “going to cut my f’ing throat” so I called 911.

    Here is a pic of him: https://ibb.co/k9DoA5

    Oh, i’m totally up for a drink… but i don’t want dogs barking in my yard at 6am 😉

    • Kayla

      JoeB, why do you think park goers would adhere to the ‘not allowed’ times for off-leash play if they cannot adhere to the leash laws now?

      • JoeB

        I’m not sure they would, but it’s worth a try, no? I tend to think that if given a reasonable option that people will opt to follow the rules. Perhaps I’m being too optimistic.

  • Jesse Crandall

    In response to JEANNE ANDREWS letter referencing LEACH-FREE TIME in Pastorius Park…..be advised Ms. Andrews, your letter was “running” on until YOU made the mistake of making it personal by including in your rant two (2) neighborhoods namely….WYNDMOOR & BLUE BELL.
    Question Ms.Brown, why name these two and no one else ?? Do you have first hand knowledge ?? Did you interview people in the park ? Did you see people from Wyndmoor or Blue Bell NOT picking up their dogs poop ?? I would love to hear your explanation for calling out these two stellar communities. If NOT, I want a retraction and or apology for personally maligning these neighborhoods.
    See to it Ms. Andrews…

    • Mike

      Take your meds

      • Jesse Crandall

        Hey Mike…Go smack yourself !!

        • Mike

          No need to, I took my meds today.

          • Jesse Crandall

            Great comeback….not !

    • JoeB

      Although not scientific – I often ask people where they are from. To Jeanne’s point, a surprisingly large percentage are not from the neighborhood. However, many are. Additionally, almost half of the people that live in Chestnut Hill are renters (surprising, I know). The larger point Jeanne is making (specific neighborhoods aside) is that, those who do not live here are less likely to treat the park like their backyard. Anecdotally, I have found this to be true. I pick up at least 1-2 shopping bags worth of trash each day at the park, I know others that do also. Who discards all this trash and bags of poop… I’m not saying it’s you… but my guess is that if you could tally everything, those that mistreat the park are likely not from CH and or possibly rent and don’t consider it home. My theory is that the parks reputation as a “dog park” (it’s so not) attracts people from other neighborhoods.

      In the spirit of data gathering – Jesse, are you from CH? Do you have a dog? Do you walk your dog at Pastorius? Do you agree or disagree with the dogs on leash law?


      • Jesse Crandall

        Hello Joe B…Regarding your questions I am born & raised in Chestnut Hill. To be precise four generations. I have always had dogs, the bigger the better. My personal preference are MASTIFFS. I do NOT walk my dog(s) @ Pastorious Park. If I did my dog(s) would be on leach. Therefore, I support THE DOG LEACH LAW. All dogs whether the park in question or up & down the “ave” leavh your dog(s). If you want off leach situations, do your homework, go camping, go for a hike where leach laws do not apply. Good luck with that. Personally, I love a well trained dog, anything less is not acceptable.
        Enjoy your weekend Joe.

        • dogmom

          LEARN HOW TO SPELL “LEASH.” You are embarrassing yourself.

          • Jesse Crandall

            “Embarrassing myself ?” ….This from a person WHO calls herself …”DOGMOM.”
            Please, do us all a favor & go jump on a bone. ,)

        • Frank

          In your recent letter it appears you actually live in Wyndmoor though… just to clarify.

  • L Adams

    For years I’ve walked my daughter’s dog around Chestnut Hill semi-regularly. The dog has NEVER been off leash. That’s what good citizens do, especially in an urban environment, to obey the laws, show courtesy to fellow citizens, and to avoid any kind of dog related issues.

    The need to have your dog off leash is a personal problem that should not impact the rest of us. Before getting a dog you should consider whether you’d want in off leash — though I don’t understand why that is necessary — and whether YOU have enough personal property to do that.

  • s garfinkel

    Ms. Andrews – Even If I were to agree that this public park is your ‘backyard or front yard” is it’s most definitely not yours, but your Landlord’s, Woodward Homes.

    Please try and find and more productive and less acerbic use for your time. I know the Philadelphia police department would be grateful and so would I…. and law abiding dog owner, lover and neighbor.