County Exec Candidate Statements Endorse Change in Policy to Allow On-Leash Dog Walking in Nassau County Parks

On Oct. 14, 2013, LI-DOG asked the two major candidates for Nassau County Executive for a statement on their position on on-leash dog walking in Nassau County parks. Earlier this year, LI-DOG launched an effort to work with elected officials to change Nassau County’s policy so that people can legally walk their dogs on-leash in Nassau County parks. Following are the statements we received from the two candidates—County County Executive Ed Mangano and County Executive Candidate Tom Suozzi. Note: these are on page links.

From County Executive Mangano:

Dear LI Dog,

I am aware that years ago it was written into Nassau County Code to prohibit dogs in our parks. Nassau County has approximately 267,000 dogs, that number also includes mine. Nassau County, under my administration, cares about pets. During hurricane Sandy Nassau County opened the Nassau County Emergency Pet Shelter, the only emergency pet shelter on Long Island, which cared for over 500 animals for over 4 months – thereby allowing pet owners to get back on their feet. We are proud that every pet returned to a loving home. I appointed an Animal Emergency Coordinator for implementing new programs to prevent cruelty to animals, community education programs, recruiting volunteers for emergency pet shelters during times of natural disaster, spay/neuter programs and animal training for County personnel who often encounter animals. You also know that we have opened new and refurbished off-leash dog parks, so our residents have a place to let their pets play. Today, five parks and one museum property boast off-leash dog parks and we are continually reviewing the options for adding new ones in other parks

I understand the benefits of visiting Nassau County Park with your dog – exercise is good for the body and spirit for both you and your pet. I do believe that the time has come to revisit the law to allow dogs in our parks. I will work with the Parks Commissioner & Legislature to open certain parks with hiking trails, campgrounds and beaches to dogs on leashes. [Bold added by LI-DOG.]

To foster a dog-friendly park environment, dog owners would have to abide by the following guidelines to ensure the safety of pets and other park visitors:

Dog owners will be responsible for their dogs behavior Dogs would not be allowed in every park. In parks that allow dogs on leash, they might not be permitted in all areas of that park. Pets must be leashed at all times. (Except in designated “Off-leash Dog Parks” ). When walking, your pet must be on a leash no more than 6 feet in length. Dogs must have a collar with ID Dog owners are responsible for immediate removal and proper disposal of pet’s waste. Dogs using the parks must be licensed and vaccinated Dog owners must prohibit digging. Pets are not permitted (unless it is a service animal) in any picnic areas, protected bathing areas, bike trails or sanitary facilities, including showers. When camping, all pets (only cats and dogs are permitted) must be registered with attendant upon entering campground and must not be left unattended at your site. No more than two pets per campsite will be allowed. Owner will be required to show LICENSE AND PROOF OF INOCULATIONS upon check-in. If not shown, camper will be denied access to the campground. If a pet becomes a nuisance or aggressive, owners may be asked to leave the park. It is strongly recommended that dogs using the parks be spayed or neutered.

We will also be looking for your assistance in making this possible.

Sincerely,

Ed Mangano County Executive

From Tom Suozzi:

“If elected as County Executive, I will work with Humane organizations though my advisory board to create more progressive policies in support of the health, safety and well-being of our animals. I would wholeheartedly support the change to permit responsible pet owners to exercise their four-legged family members on leash with the rest of the family and utilize our beautiful parks, beaches and hiking trails.[Bold added by LI-DOG.] A dog owner myself, I realize the value in our pets accompanying us on outings and additionally, the physical health benefits of such activities.” — Tom Suozzi

Tom Suozzi for County Executive

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