Presentation before the Suffolk County
May 13, 2003
Michael Kahn for H-DOG
I traveled 3 hours to be here today, because I felt
compelled to speak about Legislator Binder’s bill specifying new requirements for
dog parks in the county. Upon reading the bill, my first reaction was that this bill
should not be tossed aside lightly. No, this bill should be thrown away with great
This bill would be terribly damaging to so many of
your constituents. Unlike so much of this legislature’s work, which is designed to
improve the quality of our lives and to create value, this bill would simply serve
to exclude, diminish, discriminate and take things away.
What is most troubling about this bill is the truly
underhanded manner in which it seeks to effectively turn dogs and their owners away
from county parks. By imposing requirements which can not possibly be met, it would
have the same impact as a bill which just outright bans dog runs from county
parkland – however, that wouldn’t look so good on campaign literature.
- This bill requires user groups and transfers to
them the obligations of government. There are no such things as “user groups” made
up of the 650,000 dog owners who live in Suffolk, any more than there are user
groups representing the children who play in the parks, the bicycle riders,
picnickers, or people out for a stroll.
- Like all other residents, we just happen to enjoy
taking our dogs and other family members to enjoy a nice outing in a park.
- To require groups of dog owners who just happen
to go to the same park to form as a legal entity that would have to respond to
RFPs and buy insurance is simply ludicrous!
- Why not make parents of children using the parks
buy insurance through a user group? Or bicyclists, strollers and all other park
- Of course dog owners clean up after their dogs
and would self-police against any aggressive behavior. Come to Coindre Hall and
you will see a clean park – because we are responsible.
- Don’t place the legitimate role of government,
such as insurance, on the backs of dog owners unless you are prepared to do the
same to all citizens using county parks. Are you also prepared to ask strollers to
mow the grass and bicyclists to pave their bike paths?
And restricting dog runs to exist more than ¼ mile
from any water within a park would deny us access to the parks we have been enjoying
for decades, such as Coindre Hall. We live on an island for god’s sake – surrounded
by water. Why was it okay to install 8 septic tanks at Coindre Hall park last year,
less than 200 yards from Huntington Harbor?
This legislation is so blatantly discriminatory,
burdensome and onerous, yet attempts to appear inclusive by inserting cat runs into
the language. Cat runs!!! There are no such things as cat runs and even a basic
understanding of cats and dogs would make one aware of the fundamental differences
in their behavior. I love cats just as I love dogs, and can think of few things that
would be as terrifying to a cat as to be placed in a large pen with many unfamiliar
cats. Take a dog to a dog run with 10, 20 or even 50 unfamiliar dogs and that dog
will be playing a game of chase within 30 seconds and have a new best friend. Put a
cat in similar circumstances and it will hide under the bed for a week!
Legislation to establish Cat runs would make the
Suffolk legislature the source of ridicule. Who among you wants cat runs on your
All that this ill-intentioned bill and other efforts
to curtail the access of Suffolk dog owners to county parks is accomplishing is to
awaken a sleeping giant. We are 650,000 strong with many more sympathetic
households. You have angered those of us who are finding our enjoyment of the parks
we have been going to for decades threatened and ignored by far too many of you. We
will not be ignored or marginalized!
I am asking this body to act fairly, rationally and
in a manner that upholds the normally high standards applied to your legislative
Recognize this bill for what it is: cynical,
underhanded and discriminatory.
This type of legislation might unfortunately be the
norm in Washington, but don’t let this body which has accomplished so much to be
proud of be dragged into something so wrong-minded.
To legislator Binder I say: This is bad government
and we deserve better!