Pet Owners Angry After City Signs Mistakenly Ban Dogs at Isham Park

By Nigel Chiwaya on April 17, 2014 8:17am 

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  Pet owners were confused and angered when erroneous signs went up banning dogs at Isham Park Tuesday.
Isham Park Passive Lawn
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INWOOD — Dog owners were left barking mad this week after the Parks Department briefly put up erroneous signs in Isham Park banning dogs from both of the parks' lawns.

The signs, which were installed Tuesday morning, declared Isham Park's grass as "passive lawns," banning pets and confusing residents who say the park is a longtime haven for local pups.

“If you come here anytime after 9 p.m. most of the dogs in the neighborhood are here. They know each other and they expect to play with each other,” said one resident, who only gave his first name, John, because his dog was running off-leash in the park. "It's a long walk to get to Inwood Hill Park, and I just don't have the time for it."

After several residents wrote to the Parks Department, officials admitted that the "no dogs allowed" signs were a mistake and that dogs are in fact permitted on the laws.

"The sign regarding dogs was posted in error and was removed," Parks spokesman Phil Abramson said in an email this week.

Black markers covered the "no dogs" portion of the signs on Tuesday afternoon, and by Wednesday the signs were gone.

The passive lawn designation still prohibits active sports, barbecues and amplified sound on the lawns, officials said. Abramson said Isham Park has always been a passive lawn, due to the fact that it does not have an athletic field or sport court. 

The momentary scare was the latest flare-up between Isham Park and dog owners, several of whom last year complained about being ticketed for having their pets off-leash in the park. Off-leash dogs are not allowed in Isham, but residents said there was an informal agreement between the police and residents allowing the activitiy between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. The Parks Department and NYPD both denied any such agreement.

John, whose dog Jethro ran off-leash in the rain Tuesday afternoon, said he believed an informal agreement was still in place. 

"After 9 o'clock you can have the dog off leash," he said. "Before that you should [use a leash]."

But Eugene Gologursky, whose dog Ginger was injured by an off-leash dog two years ago, said that he doesn't believe any such agreement exists.

"All dogs on leash, all the time." Gologursky said.

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