Off-Leash Dog Rules to be Debated After Isham Park Attack

By Ben Fractenberg on April 3, 2012 6:50am 

Some dog owners and residents are engaged in a debate over whether off-leash dogs should be allowed in Isham Park  form 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Some dog owners and residents are engaged in a debate over whether off-leash dogs should be allowed in Isham Park form 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
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DNAinfo/Carla Zanoni

INWOOD — Local parents and dog owners are expected to go head-to-head with Parks Department officials Tuesday night as they discuss recent changes made to off-leash dog regulations in Isham Park.

After an off-leash dog in the park attacked a leashed dog in March, Parks officials installed new signage alerting dog owners that their pets are not allowed off their leashes at any time in Isham Park.

"My dog was mauled by an off-leash pit bull," said Jackie Parrot, 36, whose pit bull mix Ginger was attacked on March 7 when an unleashed dog charged across the park, police said.

"It would have been killed except for the fact that three men pulled the dog off. It can happen at any time. This wasn't the first time my dog was attacked."

But dog owner Chris Christos, 64, said off-leash dogs have been a crime deterrent in the area and are now being unfairly penalized.

"The knee-jerk reaction is to punish all the neighborhood dogs who have always done their jobs in the night and early morning," he said. "People were just looking for an excuse like something like this to happen."

Christos claimed he collected 98 signatures in one week supporting the off-leash hours.

Dog owners in the neighborhood said they have been allowed to run their dogs unleashed in Isham Park between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m., based on an informal agreement hammered out in 2009 with the Parks Department, police and local politicians after a rash of muggings in the park.

But the Parks Department now says that dogs have never been allowed off-leash at anytime in the green space. 

"Isham does not have off-leash hours, because of the close proximity of the large dog run at Inwood Hill Park," said Phil Abramson, a spokesman for the department.

According to Parks Department policy, the Parks Commissioner is able to grant dog owners special permission to have their dogs off leash if no dog park exists in the park.

The closest dog run to Isham Park is located two avenues to the west in the heart of Inwood Hill Park.

The issue is set to be discussed at Community Board 12's Parks and Cultural Affairs meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 3, at 701 West 168th St. at the Hammer Health Sciences Building, room 312.

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