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A History of Offleash Policy in NYC

Over 38% of U.S. households contain one or more dogs. New York City has over 500,000 resident dog owners and 1.4 million dogs.

The reason offleash policies continue to be enacted by local municipalities is the realization that they have proven through experience to make good public policye. NYC Health Department statistics show a dramatic reduction in the number of dog bites (down over 500%) from the years before offleash recreational areas to the present.

Henry Stern, the former NYC Parks commissioner, enacted the original park offleash "Courtesy Hours" policy almost 20 years ago. Former Commissioner Stern recently said that he enacted the policy as a truce between “dog owners and dog haters. I was thrust into this controversy, and it was an endless struggle. But it’s worked out extremely well over the many years that it’s been in place, and it’s never been challenged before now.”

Many in city government have credited dog owners in large part with helping to reclaim places like Central Park, Prospect Park, Ft. Greene Park, Van Cordtland Park and many others parks so that all New Yorkers could once again enjoy their parks.

Former Parks Commissioner Betsy Gotbaum continued the successful Courtesy Hours through her tenure, and current Parks Commissioner Adriane Benepe has repeatedly stated his strong support for the policy.

It's dog owners who are the eyes and ears standing in the parks when they are least used early in the mornings and in the late evening. Visit any offleash area in a park and one can not help to notice the friendships, volunteerism, community mindedness, and

Today, dog owners are one of the largest costitents of parks users in the City. Every day of the year, rain or shine,, tens of thousands of city residents and their dogs use the City's dog parks and designated offleash areas to exercise, socialize with their neighbors, recreate, and improve their areas. Park supervisors often comment that dog owners leave parks cleaner after use.

Dog parks and offleash areas attract many people to neighborhoods and keep them connected to their communities.

It is sadly ironic that those who seek to deny dog owners a small window each day to share the



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