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.11/05/2018 – Oyster Bay Vows No Plans to Close Massapequa Dog Park

 

Two Dogs with Frisbee

Oyster Bay Vows Won’t Close Massapequa Dog Park

Announces Plans for New Dog Park in Bayville

The Town of Oyster Bay will not move the dog park located on Clocks Blvd. in Massapequa, according to Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino. While the Town considered moving the dog park to a strip located on the eastern edge of the site, given the controversy that arose over the Town’s plans, moving the dog park is now “off the table,” according to the Supervisor. For details on the Massapequa Dog Park situation and plans for a new dog park in Bayville, go to Oyster Bay Vows Won’t Close Massapequa Dog Park.


11/05/2018 – Oyster Bay Vows Won’t Close Massapequa Dog Park

 

Two Dogs with Frisbee

Photo Credit: Jana Jancke-Damiani

Oyster Bay Supervisor Vows No Plans to Close Massapequa Dog Park

Town is Committed to Expanding Opportunities for Pets and Pet Lovers, He Adds

The Town of Oyster Bay will not move the dog park located on Clocks Blvd. in Massapequa, according to Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino. While the Town had considered moving the dog park to a strip of land located on the eastern edge of the property or maybe to a site on the western edge of the Field of Dreams park, given the controversy that arose over the Town’s plans and the opposition of dog owners, moving the dog park is now “off the table,” according to the Supervisor.

The Town “NEVER had intentions to deprive dog park facilities in Massapequa from our residents,” the Supervisor wrote in a statement to LI-DOG. Rather, the Town was looking at the parcel of land on which the current dog park sits as part of a townwide appraisal of properties done to take advantage of a $2.8 billion New York State land preservation program. “The selling of property to NYS guarantees its preservation, while assisting to further reduce the debt of the town,” stated the Supervisor. “Statements…that the Town of Oyster Bay planned to close the dog park in Massapequa..are untrue,” he said.

The Town of Oyster Bay’s Dog Park at Massapequa opened in June 2012 and is located on an approximately five-acre site bounded by Clocks Blvd. on the west, E. Pine St. to the south, County Line Rd. on the east and Louden St. to the north. (For details on the dog park, go to Nassau County Dog Parks.)

News of the Town’s plans to sell the dog park first appeared in a Sept. 20th article in Newsday. “The Town of Oyster Bay will be constructing a new state-of-the art dog park on the eastern end of the property,” Town Spokesperson Brian Nevin told the newspaper. “The remaining property will be returned to the (tax) rolls to help reduce the current tax burden on homeowners.”

The reaction to the news from dog owners was swift and unfavorable. “My neighborhood was completely unaware of this until two women approached me yesterday with flyers,” said one post on the Massapequa Dog Park Facebook Group. “Myself and my neighbors are very upset, this is one of the best dog parks around.” Dog owners immediately started a campaign to call and email the Supervisor’s office and on Sept. 23rd a rally in support of the dog park was held at the park, which was covered by FIOS1. The son of a former dog park regular who passed away and to whom a memorial tree has been planted asked that the plaque by the tree be returned to him should the dog park be closed.

Since then, Supervisor Saladino, Parks Commissioner Joseph Pinto and other Town officials have worked to assure dog owners that they do not intend to close the Massapequa Dog Park and at this point do not intend to move it. In fact, the town will now look to make enhancements,” said Saladino, pointing to plans to build a dog washing station at the park.

Plans to Build New Bayville Dog Park

Moreover, Saladino added, plans are now underway to build a new dog park on the Town’s north shore.

On Oct. 29th, the Town announced that it would receive a $100,000 grant for construction of a new dog park in Bayville as a result of the efforts of New York State Senator Carl Marcellino. According to the Town, it met with north shore residents earlier this year to discuss the construction of a new dog park at Charles E. Ransom Beach in Bayville. In announcing the new dog park, the Town noted that locating the dog park at Charles Ransom Beach will not only benefit dog owners who live in the northern part of town, but will also benefit the Bayville business district by bringing in additional visitors and their pets year-round.

“Please know that we love our pets and this administration is committed to expanding opportunities for pets and pet lovers alike in a safe and meaningful way,” the Supervisor’s statement concludes. As a result, LI-DOG has received a commitment from the Supervisor to meet in the coming weeks to discuss ways to increase access to the town’s parks and beaches for Oyster Bay families and their dogs.

Thanks to all the dog owners who emailed, called and came together in support of the Massapequa Dog Park!


.07/24/2018 – Dog Exclusion Zone at Mud Creek Unworkable

 

Line of Fencing at Mud CreekDog Exclusion Zone Created at Mud Creek Off-Leash Beach! 

LI-DOG Calls for Restoration of Off-Leash Beach, Saying Zone is Unsafe, Unworkable and Unfair

On May 1, 2018, a long line of fencing was installed at Mud Creek Park to create a dog exclusion zone on Suffolk County’s ONLY official off-leash beach. The fencing cost $13,000 and cuts off half the shorefront to dog owners and their dogs. LI-DOG has called on the Suffolk County Legislator responsible for creating the dog exclusion zone to restore the off-leash beach. The zone is unsafe, unworkable and unfair, LI-DOG argues. To get details on the situation and what you can do to help restore the beach, go to Dog Exclusion Zone at Mud Creek. 


07/20/2018 – Dog Exclusion Zone at Mud Creek Unworkable

 

Line of Fencing at Mud Creek

Fencing at Mud Creek Off-Leash Beach

Dog Exclusion Zone Created at Mud Creek–Suffolk’s ONLY Off-Leash Beach!

LI-DOG Asks Suffolk Legislator to Restore the Beach: Dog Exclusion Zone is Unsafe, Unworkable and Unfair

On May 1, 2018, 530 feet of fencing was installed to create a dog exclusion zone at Mud Creek County Park in E. Patchogue—the ONLY official off-leash beach on Long Island! The fencing, which cost $13,000 and cuts the beachfront in half, is the work of Suffolk County Legislator Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue). Leg. Calarco represents the 7th District, which covers Patchogue, Medford and Middle Island among other communities.

In an email to constituents, Leg. Calarco wrote the fencing was installed “to meet the needs of community members who are not dog people…and no longer felt comfortable using this area.”  While Leg. Calarco said he understands “this compromise may not be perfect,” he added, “it’s the best solution for all interested parties.”

LI-DOG argues the dog exclusion zone is not a “compromise” as LI-DOG and other dog owners were never notified or asked to provide any input on the project. “To take away so much of this singular resource without consulting dog owners is undemocratic and unfair,” said LI-DOG President Ginny Munger Kahn.” It would be like creating a playground for kids then suddenly taking away half of it to make a basketball court for adults. Dog owners are upset.”

Three Dogs in Water at Mud Creek Beacvh

Dogs Playing at Mud Creek Off-Leash Beach

On June 6th, LI-DOG was invited to sit down with Leg. Calarco to discuss the situation and potential solutions. At that meeting, LI-DOG urged the Legislator to do away with the dog exclusion zone and restore the beach to its original purpose. The off-leash beach at Mud Creek was designated a natural borders dog park in August 2009 as a result of the Five New Dog Parks bill passed unanimously by the Suffolk County Legislature in May 2007.

In addition to dividing the beachfront in half, the dog exclusion zone creates a new entry point for dog owners that is further north on Roe Avenue. The new entrance requires dog owners and their dogs to traverse all 530 feet of fence line and sand before being able to access the waterfront. The Mud Creek site formerly was used by the Town of Brookhaven to dump recycled glass and other debris. Broken glass has often been found in this large stretch of sand.

Satellite View of Mud Creek with Dog Exclusion Zone

Suffolk Parks Commissioner Phil Berdolt added that the County intends to install snow fencing between the chain link fence and the water. Right now, because of legal restrictions, the chain link fence stops short of the water thereby leaving an open beach front with no natural barriers to running and swimming dogs. (Please note: On Aug. 4th, LI-DOG and local dog owners were told the Parks Dept. has decided NOT to install snow fencing in response to LI-DOG’s requests.)

In asking for the restoration of the beach to its original purpose, LI-DOG argued the current situation is unsafe, unworkable and unfair.

– It is unsafe to make people walk across 530 feet of glass-strewn sand in sandals.

– It is unsafe to make pets walk across the sand as glass can cut their paws and the sands gets very hot and will burn their paws.

– Installing snow fencing between the chain link fence and the water will create a dangerous situation as dogs will still be able to swim around the fence or dig under the fence into the soft sand thereby separating dogs from their owners with no quick way for owners to help their pets.

– The situation is unworkable. Neither the dog exclusion zone nor the off-leash area can be secured without creating a dangerous situation. Yet, on one side you have people who are “uncomfortable around dogs” and on the other side you have off-leash dogs who can’t distinguish the off-leash beach from the exclusion zone.

– The situation is unfair to Suffolk County residents. It takes a beach accessible to all Suffolk County residents and closes half of it for use by people who live nearby, thereby creating a “private” beach for a few local residents. Mud Creek belongs to all County residents, not just those who can afford to live a short walk away!

– The situation is unfair as it exposes dog owners to steep fines as high as $200 if people complain about dog owners letting their dogs do what the beach was designed for—swim and run off-leash—and Park Rangers are sent to enforce the dog-exclusion zone.

– The dog exclusion zone was created in an unfair and undemocratic fashion with no public notice, no public hearings and no input from the people who use the park on this major change in its use.

– The dog exclusion zone is a waste of taxpayer money. The county spent $13,000 installing 530 feet of fencing that fails to serve its purpose–allow local residents to walk the beach without coming into contact with off-leash dogs. The zone is too small for walking, it is covered by poison ivy and water at high tide, and it cannot be secured without creating a dangerous situation, noted Janie Dill, a local dog owner who frequents the beach and has written a letter about this issue to Suffolk County Legislator William Lindsay III. Leg. Lindsay represents the 8th District in Islip and serves as Vice Chair of the Legislature’s Parks Committee.

The depth of feeling among dog owners about how unworkable and unfair this is is evident in the more than 340 signatures—the biggest component comes from Leg. Calarco’s 7th District—that LI-DOG has gathered on its petition asking for the restoration of the beach. Get the petition to Preserve Mud Creek Off-Leash Beach now!

It’s important people understand before the creation of the dog exclusion zone everyone, including nearby residents, had access to the beach, noted Bill Gillis who wrote LI-DOG’s follow up letter to Leg. Calarco after the meeting. Indeed,” we have seen local residents who come to fish, walk and enjoy the beach, most of whom enjoy seeing the dogs playing,” he noted. Creating the dog exclusion zone has now actually taken away access for a large number of Suffolk County residents who treasure Mud Creek as their only off-leash dog beach.

In response to LI-DOG’s arguments, Leg. Calarco asked that we give the dog exclusion zone “a season…to see if it can work.” If there are complaints, he said, he will “rethink it.” When LI-DOG raised concerns that the longer the dog exclusion zone stays in effect, the more likely conflicts will arise between people in the zone and everyone else, Leg. Calarco vowed he would not seek to eliminate the off-leash beach.

In the meantime, LI-DOG has made two recommendations:

– That the snow fencing NOT be installed in order to avoid creating a dangerous situation in which people are separated from their pets. (Thanks to Leg. Calarco and Suffolk Parks for responding to our serious concerns about the snow fencing. )

– That people be allowed to walk their dogs on-leash through the dog exclusion zone to access the water, thereby avoiding the glass-strewn sand.

What You Can Do:

It’s very important that dog owners let Leg. Calarco know the current situation is unworkable and unfair. Let the Legislator know the benefit of listening to the concerns of hundreds of Suffolk County residents who own dogs and want the beach restored to its original purpose. Let Leg. Calarco know this is a critical issue for dog owners and that support for dog-friendly policies is a key consideration in your support for elected officials.

Please urge Leg. Calarco to work with LI-DOG and local dog owners to come to a solution that:

– Preserves the County’s intent to dedicate an off-leash beach for dog owners and their pups at Mud Creek as a result of legislation passed in 2007.

– That meets the needs of dog owners for a safe place to let their dogs run and swim off-leash without fear of conflicts with other park users and summonses and fines.

Contact Leg. Calarco:

By phone at 631-854-1400 (Calls are the easiest, but most powerful way to send a message). Please be polite.

By Email at Robert.Calarco@suffolkcountyny.gov. Don’t forget to forward a copy of your email to LI-DOG at news@lidog.org so we can see how we’re doing with our campaign.

By Letter at Suffolk County Legislator Robert Calarco, 90 W. Main St., Suite 2N, Patchogue, NY 11772

If you’re a resident of Leg. Calarco’s District 7 make sure Leg. Calarco knows that! If you’re a Suffolk County resident, remind Leg. Calarco Mud Creek is for ALL County residents.

Want to increase your impact?

Download the petition and help LI-DOG get signatures to Protect Mud Creek Off-Leash Beach  Mail back petitions with signatures to:

LI-DOG
P.O. Box 1171
Huntington, NY 11743

Then, help spread the word by getting the Flyer Dog Exclusion Zone Created at Mud Creek.

The more support we can show for restoring the off-leash beach, the more likely we’ll get a solution that meets the needs of dog owners!

Thank you for your support!


.05/07/2018 – Dog Exclusion Zone at Mud Creek Off-Leash Beach

 

East West Fence Line

Dog-Exclusion Zone Created at Mud Creek County Park–Long Island ‘s ONLY Official Off-Leash Beach

A long line of fencing that creates a dog-exclusion zone has gone up at Mud Creek County Park–Long Island’s only official off-leash beach in E. Patchogue. The fencing, which appeared May 1st, cuts the beachfront available to dog owners in half. To get the petition and details on what dog owners are doing to save the off-leash beach, go to Dog Exclusion Zone Created at Mud Creek County Park.  


05/07/2018 – Dog Exclusion Zone at Mud Creek Off-Leash Beach

 

East West Fence Line; Photo Credit Alphonse Guardino

Dog-Exclusion Zone Created at Mud Creek–Long Island’s ONLY Official Off-Leash Beach

A long line of fencing that creates a dog-exclusion zone has gone up at Mud Creek County Park–Long Island’s ONLY official off-leash beach–in E. Patchogue. The fencing, which appeared on May 1st and runs approximately 530 feet, cuts the beachfront available to dog owners and their pups in half.

Mud Creek’s off-leash beach was created for dog owners in August 2009 as a result of the Five New Dog Parks bill passed unanimously by the Suffolk County Legislature in May 2007 and in response to Suffolk residents’ requests for safe places to exercise and socialize their dogs. At this time, Mud Creek is the only official Suffolk County off-leash beach. “To take away so much of this singular resource for dog owners and their pups without even consulting us is not fair,” said Ginny Munger Kahn, president of LI-DOG. “It would be like creating a soccer field for kids and then suddenly taking half away for adult recreation. Dog owners are upset,” she noted.

Satellite View of Mud Creek with Dog-Exclusion Zone; Photo Credit Alphonse Guardino

What You Can Do: Let local elected officials and Parks Dept. officials know what you think about creating a dog-exclusion zone on the ONLY off-leash beach on Long Island. (See contact information below.) To spread the word and increase our impact: Download the Mud Creek Petition and Mud Creek Petition Signature Form, sign the form, and share it with your dog-loving family and friends.

The fencing is the work of the Suffolk County Parks Dept. and Suffolk County Legislator Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue), who represents District 7, which covers Patchogue, Medford and Middle Island among other communities. In an email to a local dog owner who asked what was behind the new fencing, Leg. Calarco responded: “This was done as a way to meet the needs of some of the community members who are not dog people…and who no longer felt comfortable using this area. The fenced area is intended to give those local residents an area at the park they can utilize apart from the dog park.”

“Dog owners are willing to share park resources,” said LI-DOG’s President, “but this is the ONLY official off-leash beach in all of Suffolk County. By contrast, local residents who do not wish to come into contact with dogs have multiple, beautiful beaches available to them nearby and throughout Long Island,” she noted.

Leg. Calarco also discussed alleged complaints from neighbors about loose dogs leaving the park in an April 2016 Suffolk Legislature meeting. In a March 2016 Long Island Advance article, neighbors suggested a fence to close off the dog park from the road. However, the new fence does not prevent dogs from leaving the park, but instead cuts across the first half of the beach to create a dog-exclusion zone.

In addition to dividing the beachfront in half, the new dog-exclusion zone creates a new entry point for dog owners. The new gated entry is further north on Roe Ave and requires dog owners and their dogs to traverse all 530 feet of fence line and sand before being able to access the waterfront. Not only does the sand get quite hot during the summer, which is tough on animals’ paws, but broken glass has often been found in this large stretch of sand, thereby putting dog owners and their dogs at increased risk of injury.

The fencing poses additional risks and raises additional safety and enforcement issues. The fencing currently stops well short of the water, leaving an open beach with no obvious barrier to prevent dogs from entering the dog-exclusion zone. “How is my dog supposed to know where this invisible line in the sand is?” asked Bill Gillis, a local dog owner who frequents Mud Creek on a regular basis and wrote the Mud Creek petition. “Are we dog owners going to be ticketed and fined for letting our dogs do what this park was designed for—allowing our pups to run and swim off-leash?”

It would also be a bad idea to extend the fence line into the water. If a dog swam around or dug under the loose sand under the fence, dog owners would not be able to quickly rescue their pets raising the potential for serious harm to their dog.

Since 2009, local dog owners have worked voluntarily to clean up and maintain the beach at Mud Creek. The site formerly was used by the Town of Brookhaven to dump recycling and dredge waste. This waste material–glass and other trash–is regularly uncovered by wind and water action. Dog owners including LI-DOG have worked diligently over the years to organize clean ups and clean up the beach themselves. “Here we’ve done all these cleanups and now that the beach is nice, the results of our work have been taken away and turned over to those who were not involved in the beach’s transformation,” said Janie Dill, another dog owner who frequents Mud Creek. “We need a solution that takes into consideration dog owners’ care and concern for this park,” she said.

It’s time for dog owners to stand up and protect the off-leash beach at Mud Creek. Please call, email or write Leg. Calarco and let him know what you think about creating a dog-exclusion zone on the ONLY off-leash beach on Long Island. Ask Leg. Calarco to work with LI-DOG and local dog owners to come to solution that preserves the off-leash beach the County created at Mud Creek Park and that meets the needs of Suffolk dog owners for a safe, comfortable, and practical off-leash area.

Contact Information for Leg. Calarco:
Call: 631-854-1400
Email: Robert.Calarco@suffolkcountyny.gov
Write: Suffolk County Leg. Robert Calarco, 90 W. Main St., Suite 2N, Patchogue, NY 11772

Don’t forget to include your address, especially if you’re a resident of District 7, which includes Patchogue, Medford and Middle Island, or are a resident of Suffolk County. This is a beach for ALL Suffolk residents after all.

Remember: Calls are the easiest, but most powerful way to send a message! Please always be polite.

Contact Information for Suffolk Parks Dept:
Call: 631-854-4949
Email: scparks@suffolkcountyny.gov
Write: Suffolk Parks Dept., P.O. Box 144, W. Sayville, NY 11796

Want to Spread the Word and Boost Your Impact? Download the Mud Creek Petition and Mud Creek Petition Signature Form, sign the form and pass it around to your dog-loving friends and family. Once you’ve got a few pages of signatures, either meet us at a dog-friendly venue in Patchogue (we’ll set up times to gather petitions) or send the completed forms to:

LI-DOG
P.O. Box 1171
Huntington, NY 11743

Want to volunteer to help us gather signatures in District 7 specifically? Email us at news@lidog.org and we’ll put you in touch with our organization team!

To keep up-to-date on what’s happening at Mud Creek, check back here or the Mud Creek Dog Park Facebook Group.

Thank you for your help and support for the Mud Creek Off-Leash Beach!


.04/09/2018 – Suffolk County Proclamation Honors LI-DOG President

 
Leg. Steve Stern and LI-DOG Prez Ginny Munger Kahn 

Suffolk County Proclamation Honors LI-DOG President for Work Helping to Create Dog Parks and Dog-Friendly Park Policies
Suffolk County’s dog-friendly parks were celebrated when LI-DOG President Ginny Munger Kahn was honored with a Proclamation from Suffolk County Legislator Steven Stern and his colleagues on the Suffolk County Legislature. “By expanding access to and enjoyment of Suffolk County’s beautiful parks, Ginny Munger Kahn has helped to materially improve the quality of life of thousands of Suffolk residents,” states the Proclamation. To get details on this exciting honor for LI-DOG’s President and how it came about, go to Suffolk County Proclamation Honors LI-DOG President. 


04/09/2018 – Suffolk County Proclamation Honors LI-DOG President

 

Leg. Steve Stern and LI-DOG Prez Ginny Munger Kahn

Leg. Steve Stern and LI-DOG President Ginny Munger Kahn

Suffolk County Proclamation Honors LI-DOG President for Work Helping to Create Dog-Friendly Park Policies

 

Suffolk County’s dog-friendly parks were celebrated December 19, 2017, when LI-DOG President Ginny Munger Kahn was honored with a Proclamation from Suffolk County Legislator Steven Stern and his colleagues on the Suffolk County Legislature. The Proclamation thanks Ginny for her work helping to create dog parks and dog-friendly park policies in Suffolk County.

“By expanding access to and enjoyment of Suffolk County’s beautiful parks and open spaces, Ginny Munger Kahn has helped to materially improve the quality of life of thousands of current and future Suffolk County residents,” states the Proclamation. “In recognition of [that work], we the members of the Suffolk County Legislature do hereby honor Ginny Munger Kahn.” The proclamation is signed by all 18 Suffolk County legislators.

Since 1998, LI-DOG has worked with elected officials and Parks officials to create 10 dog parks on Long Island (seven in Suffolk County including an off-leash beach) plus dozens of on-leash dog walking trails.

Ozzie Huber Listens to the Presentation

Among the Suffolk County Dog Parks LI-DOG has helped create are:

– Blydenburgh Dog Park in Smithtown
– Cherry Avenue Dog Park in W. Sayville
– Mud Creek Off-Leash Beach in E. Patchogue
– Robinson Duck Farm Dog Park in Brookhaven
– West Hills Large Dog Park in Huntington

These dog parks are the result of legislation passed in 2007, which Leg. Stern sponsored and with whom LI-DOG worked closely, as well as LI-DOG’s work with other elected officials. Leg. Stern’s groundbreaking 2007 legislation directed the Suffolk Parks Commissioner to identify at least five parks where dog parks could be created.

“Today there are dozens of dog parks throughout Suffolk County that would not exist were it not for the precedent set by Steve’s legislation,” Ginny said in her remarks thanking Leg. Stern. “On behalf of Suffolk’s dog owners and their dogs, I want to thank Leg. Stern and let him know how grateful we are for the groundbreaking legislation he sponsored in 2007.”

Ginny also thanked former Legislators Lou D’Amaro, Kate Browning, Jon Cooper, John Kennedy and William Lindsay for their work to create dog parks in their communities.

“Dog parks may seem like a simple thing,” said Leg. Stern, “but if you’re a dog owner and you like spending time outdoors with your dog and other members of the community who share that love for being outdoors with our best friends, you know how important dog parks are. So with Ginny’s help and the help of so many who are active in LI-DOG, one of my first legislative initiatives was establishing the first dog parks in Suffolk County parks,” said Leg. Stern. “Today, these dog parks are thriving, they bring community members together and they have a great impact on our quality of life,” Leg. Stern noted.

Suffolk Leg. William Spencer with LI-DOG Prez Ginny Munger Kahn

Leg. William Spencer of Huntington Congratulates Ginny

As LI-DOG’s representative on the Huntington Greenway Trails Citizens Advisory Committee, Ginny more recently worked on the committee’s recommendation to adopt uniform park standards for leashed dogs in Huntington Town Parks. The recommendation was designed to align Town parks policy with Suffolk County, which allows leashed dogs throughout its 48,000-acre park system. In August 2017, the Huntington Town Board unanimously passed the resolution that opened virtually all Town parks to leashed dogs.

Ginny and LI-DOG continue to work with Suffolk legislators and the Suffolk Parks Dept. to make sure the County’s dog parks and the County’s dog-friendly park policies work well for park users.

Ginny also thanked her LI-DOG colleagues for their significant help in making Long Island parks more dog-friendly. “As is true with any accomplishment, I share this with my LI-DOG colleagues—Barbara Buscareno, Ed and Arlyne McMullin, and Pam Schmidlin who worked on the Suffolk dog parks plus my Nassau colleagues Christine Laubis, Peggy Heijmen, Marie Amsterdam, Joann Garguola and Liz Haban who have taken Suffolk’s success and expanded it into Nassau County. “These dog parks and dog-friendly park policies are great examples of local democracy in action,” said Ginny.

LI-DOG continues to work to increase access to public parks and beaches for Long Island dog owners and their dogs. Current campaigns are focused on Nassau County parks, Town of Hempstead parks, and beaches on Long Island.

The organization reaches thousands of Long Island dog owners every week through its website, emails, and Facebook and Meetup groups.


.01/05/2018 – Six Steps for Avoiding Conflicts at the Dog Park

 
 

Six Steps for Avoiding Conflicts at the Dog Park.

Mediator Debra Hamilton reveals six steps for avoiding conflicts and resolving issues over animals at the dog park, in your neighborhood and even within your family. To get the details about Hamilton’s presentation to LI-DOG’s Nov. 2017 meeting, read Sam Desmond’s article Six Steps for Avoiding Conflicts at the Dog Park. In the end, if you follow Hamilton’s tips, you’ll likely end up with better relationships and fewer unresolved conflicts over your fur baby!


01/05/2018 – Six Steps to Avoid Conflicts at the Dog Park

Six Steps for Avoiding Conflicts at the Dog Park

By Sam Desmond***

We’ve all been there as a pet parent, especially if you bring Fido to the dog park. Someone has accused your beloved fur baby of bad behavior and you’re foaming at the mouth in defense.  The insults come and you’ve lost control of the situation.  The exact opposite of your intentions has now happened—you’ve turned the social scene your dog whimpers in the car for into a place of contention and anxiety.

Debra and her dog Jezebelle

Debra Hamilton, a former Westchester litigator who now practices mediation and conflict resolution for people in disputes over animals and is the founder of Hamilton Law & Mediation in Armonk, NY, gave an informative and effective presentation to LI-DOG’s November 16, 2017 meeting at the Plainview Public Library on how to avoid fruitless, confrontational episodes with fellow dog park attendees, neighbors, and even those soulless wonders who ‘just don’t like dogs’.

The key mantra of Hamilton’s presentation was to remember that our gifted, intuitive dogs will always feed off our energy and even if it means, “being right second,” we need to remain calm and act in their best interest. Drawing from her experience with contention, diametrically opposed positions, and fierce, maternal love as a PTA Vice President, Hamilton has devised tools and methodologies for keeping your best paw forward during heated situations involving our canine kids.

Two handy, mnemonic terms to remember in addressing such situations are “AKA” and “Stop, Drop, and Roll.”  AKA stands for Address the Problem; Keep the Relationship; Appreciate and Acknowledge the Other Party. Together, these two terms make six easy steps for addressing conflicts and resolving issues over animals at the dog park, in your neighborhood, and even within your family!

  1. Address the Problem.

Often our knee-jerk response to a complaint about our dog is: “Are you kidding me? Learn about dog behavior!” or “That person’s just a psychopath!” Instead, Hamilton advises focusing on the problem, not the person. Use inclusive terms like “our dogs” as in “we need to talk about our dogs for their safety,” because “your” or “my” instantly shuts off receptive listening in both parties. Also, instead of making accusations, ask questions and ask for more information. For example, instead of starting with “Your dog is vicious,” ask “What happened? Did you see him or her snap or seem to bite?”

  1. Keep the Relationship

Of course you don’t want to have to stop coming to the dog park or have a neighbor you have to avoid every time you get the newspaper. Hamilton reminds us “not to kill the messenger” and to learn to talk to someone who doesn’t agree with you. For example, genuinely see the other person as an individual with needs and/or someone who also loves their dog. For example, “I can tell you love your dog very much and are concerned for his or her safety.”  Or for a neighbor complaining about your dog, “I understand you work nights and to be awoken by a dog barking in the early morning is disruptive to your sleep.”

  1. Appreciate and Acknowledge the Other Party.

Appreciate and acknowledge the other person’s feelings. Appreciation does not equal agreement, Hamilton noted. To appreciate the other person’s feelings, your go-to phrase should be, “Please tell me more.” Often the opportunity to speak allows the other person to calm down enough to actually talk. Also, when responding, don’t start with “no” or “but” but rather, “Yes, I can see how you might interpret that behavior to be predatory and why it’s alarming to you. My dog’s breed is high energy and very playful as a result.” The key is to avoid adding fuel to the fire by saying things you will regret later. “Sometimes it’s okay to be right second,” said Hamilton.

  1. Stop.

Stop talking. Just listen. This shifts the momentum of the conflict. Often people run themselves out of anger when they are allowed to expel all their grievances. Plus, if there’s no aggression to respond to, the other person may have to acknowledge the overreaction they’re guilty of. And you look like the better person to onlookers (i.e. the pack supports you!) Plus, listen for solutions and be solution-oriented.

  1. Drop.

Drop the need to be right first. Focus on the bigger picture, which is the well-being of your dog. Again, being right second is okay, said Hamilton.

  1. Roll.

Let criticisms roll off your back the way your beloved fur baby does. Go with what’s being presented to you and channel it back to positivity. Then, choose the time to respond. Do not respond in the moment and regret what you said later, said Hamilton. It’s all about reining in your emotions, learning how to ask questions and listening, she said.

Socialization is quite the adventure for everyone, but we can hedge the arguments by being present with our dogs (i.e. don’t be on your phone at the dog park!) and acknowledging (unbelievable as it is) that not everyone will automatically see Fido as the loving mush you know him to be.

For more tools and techniques for dealing with disputes over animals, pick up a copy of Hamilton’s book Nipped in the Bud, Not the Butt: How to Use Mediation to Resolve Conflicts over Animals, available on Amazon.

If you follow Hamilton’s suggestions, you’ll likely end up with better relationships and fewer conflicts over your fur baby!

***Sam Desmond is editor-in-chief of arts magazine HiConcept, a features writer for The Bayport-Blue Point Gazette and The Sayville Gazette, and an editorial contributor to LI-DOG. She can be reached at: snd.scribe@gmail.com or 917/532-9460.