L to E: Some problem dog walkers in our parks need to obey the law

May 30, 2014
by P. Cullen

This is an accident, or worse, a law suit waiting to happen.  For quite some time, professional dog walkers have been taking over the town parks.  There is the possibility that if one of these dog walkers causes an accident (if one of their charges bites a resident/visitor), the town could be sued.  When bite incidents have happened in the past, the Town Board has considered the possibility of banning all dogs from town parks.

There are a couple of problem walkers at Gedney and Glazier Arboretum/Whippoorwill Parks. They don’t control or pick up after their charges as stated in the Town Park Rules that are posted in each park.  They come with more than three dogs each (which has yet to be posted—but is the law).  At the very least, they are engaging in “disorderly conduct” and “behavior tending to cause a breach of the public peace” as stated in the Town Code.

One of the walkers (at Gedney) has had dogs, one of whom bit a child and a Parks Department worker (she told the mother of the child that it was “her own f***ing fault for not watching her child!).  She is known by town residents as “the woman who screams,” she has threatened people with vandalism for coming to “her” park and several town residents avoid the park when she is there.  This should NOT happen where we live!

The Police and Dog Warden have been trying to deal with these people and there are hopes that in writing this article, other residents may contribute some of their experiences or encounters with these dog walkers.  Perhaps the Town Board could develop (and post) new regulations that would prohibit this kind of behavior in our parks. 

If dog walkers want to serve town residents and follow the Town Code, fine.  Otherwise, let’s keep our parks from “going to the dogs.”

We encourage civil, civic discourse. All comments are reviewed before publication to assure that this standard is met.

I am a pet sitter but I never walk dogs at Gedney. What was described above is very irresponsible and careless. They are giving pet sitters a bad name. Most are very conscientious and the ones that I know, never walk more than one dog at a time and usually in their own neighborhood. Are these really pet sitters or the neighbor next door? The person walking the dog is the responsible one, not the other people at the park, providing that they don’t provoke the dog. But even in that case, the dog should be under the pet sitter’s control at all times. I’m not even going to mention picking up after the dog. It shouldn’t be necessary to say anything about that.

By Pam Rosman on 05/30/2014 at 8:10 pm

I am in complete support to ban the dogs from our parks. I can provide a whole story as to why, but simply put, our parks should be dog free, and only available to residents who want to enter our parks without an animal PERIOD!

By Ban the dogs on 05/30/2014 at 8:56 pm

Dogs must be on short leashes and under control. But sitters and owners think they are special and laws do not apply to them. There are miles of streets to walk on, what’s the problem?

By love me, love my dog on 05/31/2014 at 5:34 am

Why doesn’t the town fence an area and create a dog park?

By Dogs need to play too on 05/31/2014 at 9:53 am

I walk my dog with other responsible dog owners and their friendly dogs almost every day in one of the town parks and appreciate greatly the opportunity to allow my dog off leash on the trails.  Off-leash hikes provide better exercise for the dogs as they can run a bit. In addition, when conditions are icy, it is much safer for dog owners not to be constrained by a leash when navigating steep hills.  I always leash my dog if I encounter others on the trails without their own friendly off-leash dogs, and I always clean up after my dog (as do the many other dog owners I see regularly at the parks).  I have seen irresponsible dog walkers, sometimes with as many as 11 dogs with them at a time.  I totally agree that this should not be allowed as they cannot possibly monitor/clean up after this many dogs at once.  Those who employ a dog walker should inquire how many dogs are in his/her care at a time and insist that it be 3 or fewer. There should be very large, unambiguous signage at the parks regarding the 3-dog rule and VERY stiff penalties for people who violate it.  In addition, since dogs must be licensed by the town annually, the licensing application should clearly state the 3-dog rule at the parks.  The vast number of responsible dog owners and their friendly dogs should not be penalized for the actions of the few irresponsible few.

By Cathy Doppelt on 05/31/2014 at 10:58 am

Re: Dogs need to play too – I would petition the town to stop all efforts and money, along with town time, to address placing forth an effort that is meant for the happiness of dogs. How about creating an area of the park that can truly provide enjoyment for kids who will sit in a wheelchair for their entire life. How about creating a Basketball court that can allow wheelchair based kids and adults to play the game. Leave the dogs to your own property or go out and walk along a beautiful road. Additionally, please pick up the droppings that your dog leaves behind. I agree, get the dogs and cats out of our parks; their owners feel entitled.

By No! on 05/31/2014 at 12:51 pm

Thanks for all of your responses!
To “Ban the dogs” Please provide the “whole story as to why”. We want the park available to all and would appreciate if residents respected others who may not be dog lovers. 
to: “love me, love my dog”: Dogs need to RUN to truly thrive.  At Gedney, dogs are allowed off-leash on the TRAILS ONLY after 10:30am, Sun-Fri (after 8:00am Sat). Gedney is one of the few parks in the area that allow dogs off-leash.
It would also be appreciated if dogs owners/walkers would leash their dogs if requested to (some people/children are AFRAID of dogs and they MUST be respected).
Fenced-in areas for Dog Parks are problematic in that no one is available to police them to be sure that dogs are healthy and vaccinated.  They become prime spots for infection.
In this vein, it is important for people to pick up after their dogs as required by Law. I’ve seen poop bags (FREE, by the way) left along the trail instead of being placed in the MANY trash receptacles located around that park.  Notice to these people: Thanks for bagging, but The Poop Fairy had to be let go due to budget cuts. Thanks again, P.C.

By P.C. on 05/31/2014 at 12:52 pm

Nothing stops dog owners from installing invisible fencing on their own properties and allowing their dogs to roam free and poop where they eat, as the saying goes.

This issue is but another example of individual selfishness. So now I must worry about the health of other people’s dogs? That owner/walkers leave poop bags behind speaks volumes.

By love me, love my dog on 06/01/2014 at 9:49 am

I run my friendly dog in town parks and have done so happily for more than eight years. The vast majority of dog-owners I have observed are responsible and their dogs perfectly civil (more so, I might add, than many of the human comments I see on this website!) I truly believe there is no dire issue here. If there is in fact a law stating a maximum number of dogs per walker, signage can remind professional dog-walkers of the rules, and additionally remind dog owners to discard their poop bags. We are so fortunate to have a plethora of beautiful parks and trails in this town. If there are residents who have a problem with dogs, it seems they have numerous options for walks in nature where dogs are leashed or not allowed. Perhaps the dog officer in town could visit Gedney and give some warnings or tickets if he/she sees rules being violated. I firmly believe that when the majority is well-behaved and responsible, we can persuade those who aren’t without resorting to extreme measures.

By Sarah Hodder on 06/01/2014 at 3:20 pm

I walk my dog almost daily at Gedney on a leash. My constant concern is if we will meet up with the packs of dogs.  My dog is leashed. The dog walkers often have multiple dogs and walk with others who are walking multiple dogs. This creates a pack of dogs. Even if each walker has 3 dogs. Multiple walkers are walking together. My dog is very social and friendly. However, we have had as many as eight dogs run up to us and surround my dog. They run ahead of the walkers and once in a pack are no longer under voice command or responding to the walker. I am often frightened and I can see my calm friendly dog start to bristle and become defensive when approached and surrounded by a pack. I have to yell to the walkers to get there dogs away from mine. My leash gets tangled around me as my dog is trying to flee the pack.  The town should take all of these comments very seriously. Unless the town addresses the packing of the dogs by walkers, it is a tragedy waiting to happen. Most dog owners are very respectful and keep their dogs in check. The dog walking packs are taking advantage of the parks to enrich themselves while making a simple walk in the park with ones dog a nightmare. If commercial dog walkers wish to use public parks , they should apply for and pay for a permit to do so. Why is this an unregulated freebee to money makers. What other business can use a public park for their personnel monetary gain?

By License and charge dogs walkers! on 06/01/2014 at 9:25 pm

I say ban the dogs. I hate going to the park and having to scape dog feces from the bottom of my sneakers. I also hate it when my child falls on the grass only to have to wipe feces off her hands and knees. It truly is great that Gedney does not have a problem with geese and ducks, like other parks do. I think more residents and kids would use the park if they knew no dogs were allowed. Yes, ban the dogs! Where can you wash your sneakers when they step in feces?

By Where on 06/02/2014 at 12:48 pm

This behavior on the part of the negligent dog walker is disturbing and unacceptable. As a responsible dog owner I am troubled when I see the “Pack” tearing through the trails. It is physically impossible to watch and control more than 2-3 dogs off leash. The parks and trails are for all residents to responsible enjoy, it is a shame a few can ruin it for the rest.

By ARC on 06/02/2014 at 6:16 pm

There is a dog walker who goes to Gedney quite often. She can be heard screaming at the dogs. I have seen her there with way more than 3 dogs and without any leashes. Why is this allowed to happen? I think her name is Jen.

By No Fun at the Park. on 06/03/2014 at 8:55 am

Something needs to be done! I love dogs and am happy to share the park with them but walkers need to take responsibility for their canine charges. I work near Gedney Park where I often go to walk before work or during my lunch hour. About a month ago, I crossed paths with a walker who had multiple dogs off-leash. One of them—a terrier—ran up to me growling and grabbed my pants leg in its teeth. My first thought was, What if this happened to a child! When I saw the walker later, I called to her to keep her animals in check. She was on the phone (Clearly, a pack of dogs does not require her full attention) but she nodded to me, indicating her foot was on the terrier’s leash. Not surprisingly, the terrier instantly ran free and charged me anew. There should be consequences for this kind of irresponsible behavior.

By Chappaqua resident on 06/03/2014 at 12:42 pm

It wasn’t that long ago a child was selling cupcakes at Gedney park and was stopped by the police for not having a permit to do so. Shouldn’t It be required for other’s to have a permit to conduct other types of small business in public parks. Dog walkers are charging a fee for their service and using the park. Wouldn’t it be sensible to require professional dog walkers to obtain a town permit and be insured. I would think that dogs walked in our parks should have current dog licenses. I would think it would be the responsibility of a professional dog walker to ensure the dogs they do walk have a license with the Town of New Castle.  This way in case of an incident, a park visitor would be able to identify the walker and the dog owner.

By Town need to be more responsible. on 06/03/2014 at 7:41 pm

These comments serve as legal notice to the town that permitting a dog walking business and allowing dogs off leash creates a danger of personal injury to park goers.

The giving of This legal notice allows the town to be held responsible, along with a dog owner/walker, should a leashed dog or a human become injured by a pack of unleashed dogs or ‘professionally walked’ dogs.

The circumstances described above are an accident waiting to happen.

The defendants which are liable are

a) The town for allowing the practice which creates a forseen danger and/or allows the danger to exist or continue to exist.

b) The owners of the walked dogs. It is their negligence in ownership of the dogs.

c) The dog walkers themselves. It is their negligence in failure to adequately control the dogs.

My question is: Why can’t professional dog walkers walk dogs on the miles of our lovely roads? In fact, they don’t even have to pick up after the dogs if its on the roads, just scoop it up and toss it into the woods.

By Yes, more responsibility on 06/04/2014 at 4:38 am

There cannot be a “responsible” professional dog walker. The very moment the multiple walker directs her attention to scooping, that attention is away from the dogs.

It only takes that short moment to have an incident.

A reasonable place to start on this issue should be to limit dog use to one dog per human in all parks.  What’s wrong with that, other than the fact that the unlicensed, unregulated dog walking cottage industry becomes less profitable and the human use of the parks becomes more enjoyable?

By contradiction of terms. on 06/04/2014 at 4:45 am

I’m surprised to see so many comments wanting to ban dogs from the parks altogether.  If you are having problems with a person walking a dog who uses the “F” word in conversation with you, the problem is probably more about the person than the dog.  I have taken my leashed dog to Gedney Park numerous times over the years.  We’ve never had a negative experience and usually have to stop repeatedly for young children who want to pet him.  He loves the attention and for some kids petting him is their first experience with a dog, I’m happy to help make it a positive one.  I think most residents who take their dogs to the park are sensible enough to bring only well-mannered pets there.  Perhaps we should focus on the few troublemakers rather than label all dogs as bad.


By Kim Lindner on 06/04/2014 at 5:15 pm

What’s the problem with Limiting dog use to personally owned dogs? and having them leashed? Dog temperament, without prior incident history, is too subjective a standard to consider.

Any one who want their dog to run freely is able to do so on their own properties where the dogs can poop to the dog’s (and owner’s) content.

By one person one dog on 06/05/2014 at 7:40 am

I live on a street that provides easy access to the Gedney hiking trails, and my property adjoins the park. For as long as I’ve lived here, people have used the street as a parking area from which to begin their dog walks. For well over a decade, this was rarely a problem.

Then, last year, two professional dog walkers started parking regularly in front of my house. I had a front row seat to their comings and goings, often three or four times a day as they returned with assorted groups of dogs. I regularly witnessed all the inattentive behaviors Pat Cullen details in her letter—both on Gedney property and on my personal property. (All while enjoying “the screamer” through my windows.)

I have spoken to the police and the animal control officer. After a recent unpleasant confrontation, those particular dog-walkers have stopped parking on my street and letting dogs relieve themselves on my lawn, but I assume they are still coming to Gedney.

Let’s assume for a moment that every dog-walker in the park is trying his or her best. (Do I believe this? No. But anyway….) Keeping three unleashed dogs under control just does not appear possible. You cannot look in three directions at once. You cannot chase in three directions at once. It’s hard enough to keep your eyes on a single unleashed dog on the hiking trails, due to the many trees, hills, and blind spots.

So maybe the town law needs amending. Perhaps each person could be allowed three LEASHED dogs in the park, but only ONE UNLEASHED dog. By all means, post and enforce the rules. Maybe clearer, more explicit signage will help. But the biggest help will come from making the park less attractive to the people who use it irresponsibly.

Also, we could start following the example of Naples, Italy, and DNA-test all the dog poop left behind in the park.

By Gedney neighbor on 06/08/2014 at 9:52 am

How about doing something like this in Gedney:

Kingsland Point Park
Kingsland Point Park overlooks the Hudson River and is home to the historic1883 Lighthouse. Take Route 9 to Sleepy Hollow and turn west (toward Hudson River) onto Pierson Street (which becomes Bellwood) and continue to Palmer Avenue. Turn left onto Palmer Avenue and continue to Kingsland Point Park.

Your dog will require a dog license (issued from your town of residence) and a tag (issued from the Village of Sleepy Hollow Town Clerk at 914-366-5104) in order to use the the dog park. The $25.00 Village of Sleepy Hollow tag grants admission to the dog park and covers parking fees.

*Important note-read dog park safety before you visit a park

By Sleepy Hollow charges to use its dog park on 06/08/2014 at 11:14 am

What? Spend money when I can have my charges excrete freely for free on everyone else’s property ? You must be kidding.

By Not a chance on 06/08/2014 at 10:36 pm

I have a special needs child who is deathly afraid of dogs. The problem at the parks, if the dogs are unleashed and my daughter starts shaking and crying, the dogs respond negatively which makes matters worse.Owners of dogs get VERY defensive if asked to leash their pet making it even more uncomfortable for us.  I pay taxes too and would like to enjoy the trails with my child. I have always been taught that “people come first”.. this applies to people coming before money, before religion, before pets. I love dogs, but they are supposed to be directed by their owners… unfortunately around here I see the opposite..the dogs are walking their owners, not the other way around!

By Cookie on 06/09/2014 at 11:45 am

Dog lovers and owners feel that they are more special and entitled than you are. That is the Chappaqua way of life. Its similar to, but worse than, people sitting behind you in a movie theatre and talking to an extent that interferes with your enjoyment of the show.

“how dare you have the audacity to ask then to be quite (leash the dog). You are nothing in their opinion when making a comparison to their dogs. Their belief is “keep your kid home”

By dear cookie on 06/10/2014 at 11:41 am

Dog walkers have an attitude like limo drivers or taxi drivers: “because they are being paid to drive on the same roads as the rest of us (which we pay for) they have the superior right to use them :speed, cut us off, honk if we do not move fast enough. Same with dog walkers…they are being paid to walk three dogs at once. They have the superior right over your child to enjoy the park that you and I pay for.

Besides they out number you at any one point in time. Human plus three unleashed (accident waiting to happen) dogs =4 to your little daughter and you = 2. Shoot me now.

By and another thing on 06/10/2014 at 11:49 am

My owner will not let me poop on her lawn because that is where her children play. She insists that I poop in a public park because she told me that she doesn’t care about any one else. I agree with her. I love the fact that I can roam free and do my business as the spirit moves me…especially near little children, whom I find amusing.

By lassie on 06/10/2014 at 11:54 am

We don’t all let our dogs run and fail to clean up after them.  The town has “poop” bags and garbage cans all along the road in Gedney, and I always bring my own supply when I go to the park.  My dog stays on her leash and I always clean up after her. Some people don’t obey the rules about a lot of things,its not just dogs, but a lot of us do.

By From dog owner on 06/16/2014 at 2:52 pm

Those who don’t obey the rules, ruin it for those who do obey the rules.

The only guaranteed way to prevent rule breakers from breaking the rules is to ban everyone. That is a strict solution, but the only certain one.

Anyone who sees a rule violation happening and does not call the violator out on it, should forfeit their right to use the park.

“Love me love my dog” is a point of view that no longer applies to health and cleanliness issues in New Castle.

By Dear dog owner on 06/20/2014 at 7:31 am

To all those parents who complain about owners walking their companions in the parks, I have a few things to say, I am not a fan of going to a restraunt and paying for dinner and sitting next to a table with children who are noisy and parents have no controll over their children I find it rude and obnoxious not cute. Parks are for all of us wether we want to take our family members ie children or pets.

By Fluffy on 09/17/2014 at 9:19 pm

Post a comment:

Display Name*:

Your Display Name will be associated with this comment on NewCastleNOW.org. We encourage commentators to use their real name or initials.

We encourage civil, civic discourse. In other words, be pithy and polite. All comments will be reviewed before publication to assure that this standard is met.