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Paws in the air! Dog walkers outraged by Parks Department’s crackdown on off-leash walking in Carroll Park

The raid: Officers with the Parks Departments Parks Enforcement Patrol ambushed dog owners at Carroll Park on Sunday.
Brooklyn Paper
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Call it paw enforcement!

Department of Parks and Recreation patrolmen ambushed dog walkers at a Carroll Gardens park this month to crack down on pup owners who walk their furballs off-leash, according to one hapless human, who said one minute he was walking his dog Cassie, and the next minute he was surrounded!

“It reminded me of ICE tactics,” said a Carroll Gardener Remko de Jong, referring to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. “It was definitely an ambush — it came out of nowhere. There was no way to escape.”

Locals for decades have used the gated black top at Carroll Park on President Street as an unofficial dog run, according to De Jong. The park is plastered with signs strictly forbidding taking dogs off their leashes at any time, but rogue visitors who do let their hounds loose are generally respectful, cleanup after their four-legged friends, and limit their time off-leash to the early hours before 9 am, the local claimed.

On Sunday March 3 at 8:30 am, however, half a dozen officers with the Parks Enforcement Patrol suddenly appeared and blocked all entrances to the black-top area of the park, issuing $50 citations to De Jong and six other dog owners one-by-one as they filtered out of the recreation space — a raid the Carroll Gardener called excessive.

“That’s so many resources for seven people walking their dog on a Sunday morning,” he said. “It seems like you could spend your resources on other things.”

The sting outraged another local dog walker, who said officials should create a dedicated space for pups in Carroll Gardens — where the closest places that permit pups to run freely are Red Hook’s DiMattina Dog Run or Hillside Dog Park in Brooklyn Heights — before penalizing pet owners who just want to give Fido a few minutes to roam.

“I understand the rules of the park, but they must understand our needs and that the dogs need space,” said Carroll Gardener Shayna Wellington, who also received a ticket for walking fuzzy buddy Sam off-leash. “There must be a compromise, even if it’s just early morning hours.”

Parks Department officials ordered the Sunday raid, which agency patrolmen followed with another ambush on Monday morning, in response to recent complaints about locals breaking Carroll Park’s leash rules, according to department spokeswoman Maeri Ferguson. And there are no further stings scheduled, said Ferguson, who added that park police commonly patrol on-leash parks during the peak walking hours before 9 am.

The sudden change in enforcement, however, is a break from what De Jong said was an unspoken understanding between dog owners and the park officers, who would routinely show up at 8:55 am and give folks a five-minute heads up to leash their mutts and scram instead of ticketing them.

“They would be there at 8:55 am, waiting until 9 am, so everybody knew to leash their dog and leave,” he said.

And as along as pups behave, there’s no reason they shouldn’t get their own time to play, according to a Cobble Hill mom, who claimed to never witness any problems with unleashed pooches at Carroll Park.

“The park is for everyone; we should accommodate both parents and dog owners,” said Lucy Ham, who frequently visits the recreation space with her son. “The dogs are never in the way of the kids at the playground, they stay in their own area, so I don’t mind it.”

— with Maya Harrison

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 12:54 pm, March 7, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Patty Waggin from St. Bernard says:
Don’t have a dog in the city if you want it to run around free, get a fenced in backyard! Keep your pit bulls away from me! Don’t have large dogs in small apartments. Don’t get a dog if it’s home alone all day. Don’t let your dogs bark and disturb the neighbors. Dog owners mostly s u c k
March 7, 1:56 pm
Ken from Greenpoint says:
Patty Waggin from St. Bernard says: agree big time, must follow rules and regulations, slapped with a $50 fine for allowing pooch to run off leash is too little,
March 7, 3:22 pm
Joe from Carroll Gardens says:
Isn't NYC law that dogs must be leashed? That's to prevent them from getting hurt and from hurting people. There are plenty of dog runs and there is one just a few blocks away on Hicks Street. If a dog bites a kid, then we all cry, 'how did that happen?' Well, the city is being proactive. We don't live in the suburbs or the countryside. Dogs must be leashed. It's the law. How an individual feels about a law does not give an individual the right to bypass the law.
March 7, 4:36 pm
Ken from Greenpoint says:
I sick an tired of steppin in an fallin in and rolling around in youre dog poop. Clean up your dog messes.
March 7, 5:48 pm
BJ from Carroll Gardens says:
The message these folks are sending is, "It's so out of line for the PARK'S OFFICIALS to follow THE RULES OF THE PARKS DEPARTMENT, when all we're doing is BREAKING THE RULES!" Off leash dogs are on the rise not just in parks, but on sidewalks, and dog owners are regularly flouting MTA rules by bringing their leashed dogs onto platforms and trains (where they absolutely should never be free to roam, even on a tether). And as far as Carroll Park goes: this article makes it sound like the DiMattina dog run is far away, all the way over in Red Hook. It's a 12 minute walk. If you're a dog person, and you refuse to walk your dog for twelve minutes to get to an off-leash park, then you DEFINITELY should not be a dog person. To suggest that Parks & Rec has to make room for dogs when there's barely enough room for people and plants (two far more important sectors of the community!) is just ridiculous. And no, that community is definitely not very good about cleaning up after their pooches. Not at all. Ultimately, it's like this: I like beer, but I don't think I should be able to drink it in the park; I like pot, but I shouldn't be able to smoke it in the park; I like loud rock and roll, but I shouldn't be allowed to blast it in the park; and I like dogs, but I shouldn't be allowed to let them "own" any part of the park, ever, at any hour. There are rules. And they apply to all of you.
March 7, 5:49 pm
Haley from Park Slope says:
How are they going to collect money from a dog? Most of these dogs are under 18, and therefore subject to juvinille law!
March 8, 4:32 am
Ms. Me from Bay Ridge says:
The latest thing in my area is they bag the poop and then throw it in the street or in a corner rather than finding a trash can. If they do throw it in a trash can they don't bother to tie the bag. Also, remember "curb your dog?" Now they let them pee anywhere --in the middle of the sidewalk and in people's doorways. So nice to leave the house and find (2 different)women letting their dog go right in the entrance!
March 8, 6:50 am
Ms. Me from Bay Ridge says:
*(2 different)women -- not at the same time! LOL!
March 8, 6:52 am
Frank from The Slope says:
It's ok for dog owners to pick up after their pooch. It's not ok to have kids play around the same area, unless you wash and hose it down there will be residue. DISGUSTING, KEEP YOUR DEFECATING ANIMALS AT HOME !
March 8, 8:55 am
Janet from Park Slope says:
There's also the Washington Park dog run north of 4th St. between 4th and 5th Avenues. How dare you analogize to ICE's destroying people's lives? All dog owners need do is follow the law.
March 8, 9:49 am
Finally from Brooklyn says:
Finally the police are doing their jobs in this "dogs gone wild" arena. Only thing is that they should have been doing it all along. Too much "selective" enforcement. Police aren't suppose to intentionally ignore the law and suddenly decide to wake up one day and say "hey, let's get the bad guys". Enforcement needs to be consistent and only addressed when encountered in the ordinary course. Not these predatory "sting opps" that breed bad faith and disharmony between police and us. We want a civil environment where we have to cooperate and follow the rules, but the delivery of enforcement has to be progressive and human in nature. Now let's start summonsing here and there for the alternative double parkers everywhere. Stop selective enforcement and deliver it progressively, humanly, effectively.
March 8, 10:04 am
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Instead of whining like a bunch of liberal commies, why not handle it yourselves? It's quite simple folks, dogs love chocolate and chocolate kills dogs. Go buy a few pounds and spread it around the affected areas. Sometimes I'll go to western beef and buy some ground beef and lace it with laxatives. It usually will kick in by the time fido is at home. You can also grind up aspirin to really get the point across. You're welcome, folks.
March 8, 10:27 am
Tyler from pps says:
Can the Brooklyn Paper please send the IP address of the comment above to the NYPD Animal Cruelty division?
March 8, 10:54 am
Ro from Park Slope says:
What makes an event "newspaper" worthy?
March 8, 3:23 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
As a long time Brooklyn dog owner, nothing makes me more pissed with other dog owners more than the "I'm too cool for this" attitude of not following the law. I hope this rate of enforcement continues with steeper fines.
March 8, 9:38 pm
kathleen henderson says:
I say it is about time! I worked in the park for 20+ years and I can say without a doubt that everyone does not clean up their dog's poop. I was told on many occasions that it was part of my job to pick it up. Some dog owners thought their dog was the most important thing in the park; they would take them in the gardens areas to poop, many times I had to ask dog owners to take their dog's out of the children's play area. So, yes, without a doubt, it is about time!!
March 11, 8:38 am
kevin says:
“It reminded me of ICE tactics,” Yes summons for off leash dog is like ICE risking their life to apprehend illegal aliens. I think there tactics are a little more risky
March 11, 10:39 am
Scott from Carroll Gardens says:
Scene: Entitled upper-middle class dog owners scattering for their lives and running for the gates of Carroll Park while dramatic Lord of the Rings chase music pays..... To say, “It reminded me of ICE tactics,” said a Carroll Gardener Remko de Jong...It was definitely an ambush — it came out of nowhere. There was no way to escape" --- is a bit over dramatic. Seriously, comparing your #firstworld problems of entitlement to the plight of people fleeing their homeland in search of something better is to trivialize their struggle, shows an insensitivity, and demonstrates a lack of general knowledge about current affairs. To hid behind breakinging the law by co-opting a very serious immigration situation, so you can illegally have your dog roam free is truly sad.
March 11, 11:01 am
Deisy Vasquez from Kensington says:
We should be allow to have our dog off leash , especially if we know our dogs won’t hard anyone or any other dog.
March 11, 2:26 pm
say what deisy? says:
i hope you dog doesnt go hard on anyone. thats against the law in nyc!
March 13, 5:19 pm
Benny from Park Slope says:
“I understand the rules of the park, but they must understand our needs and that the dogs need space." WHAT?! I swear to Christ, if I didn't read that in the paper, I would think it was someone satirizing the gibberish that dribbles from the mouths of so many entitled, self-absorbed, clueless dog owners in NYC. Look: Obey the fcuking law, and if you don't like it, advocate that it be changed. In the meantime, leash your mutt.
March 15, 4:40 pm
Barb from Carroll Gardens says:
I agree that a compromise can be found. A well excersized dog is a happy dog. A happy dog is a good neighbor. I also think people need to read the agreement below before hitting “submit”.
March 21, 6:25 am

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