Darien settles dog leash debate with town-wide ordinance
Published 1:55 pm, Tuesday, September 27, 2011
The dog leash debate is finally over after the Representative Town Meeting accepted an ordinance requiring dogs to be leashed at all times in public areas with an exception for off-leash hours in some parks.
Under the new ordinance, owners will be required to have their dogs on a leash, "except in a dog run established by the town or any private entity, no owner or keeper shall bring any dog onto any public street, sidewalk or any other public property unless the dog is on a leash or lead that is no more than 25 feet and under the control of its owner or keeper at all times. No owner or keeper shall allow any dog under his supervision to dig up, mutilate, deface or destroy any public properties."
Dog owners will also be required to clean up after their pets as part of the ordinance.
One complaint from the dog owners was that the hours established in the ordinance didn't give enough time for commuters and single parents to walk their dogs. Public Health and Safety Vice Chairman James Patrick said the ordinance was established to prevent dogs from hurting or scaring anyone.
However, the ordinance includes an exception established by the RTM's Parks and Recreation Commission for off-leash hours at some town parks.
At Cherry Lawn Park, an area between the Darien Nature Center and Brookside Road is designated as an off-leash area, year round, from dawn until dusk. All dogs must be leashed when walking to and from the parking lot; dogs are not allowed on the playing fields, playgrounds or community gardens. During off-peak hours from Sept. 1 to May 31, dogs are allowed off-leash in the designated area, and from dawn until 10:30 a.m. in the rest of the park.
Dogs are not allowed off-leash anywhere except the designated area on weekends; during peak hours from June 1 until Aug. 31 dogs are only allowed off-leash in the designated area. Cherry Lawn Park would be subject to a review six months after the rules go into effect. At Tilly Pond Park, dogs would be allowed off-leash from dawn until 10:30 a.m. on weekdays except for special events.
Woodland Park and Selleck's Woods would require dogs to be on-leash at all times. A proposal was put forward to allow off-leash on a designated trail but was rejected after commission members referred to a report from the police department saying it would be impossible to enforce the rules if certain trails were off-leash and others required dogs to be leashed.
Stony Brook and the Diller property was designated as off-leash from dawn until dusk, seven days a week. Town Hall, McGuane Park, Holohan Field and Baker Field would require dogs to be leashed at all times.
The ordinance was passed by a vote of 59-13 and the new rules will take effect Oct. 1.