To the editor of THE EAGLE:
I love walking my dog in Kennedy Park. I consider it one of the top 10 perks of living in the Berkshires. And I'm not alone. I'd guess that, easily, hundreds of dog owners use the park daily.
I was very sorry to hear that a small child was bitten by an unleashed dog recently in Kennedy Park. And I'm aware that some horses were spooked recently as well. Incidents like these are certainly upsetting.
They are thankfully, however, relatively rare. Clarence Fanto's article on June 1, "Dog bite issue breaks through again," cites Lenox's Animal Control Officer Mike Sullivan as saying that there is a "huge problem" in Kennedy Park because there are 10 to 15 dog incidents per year. I'm no math wiz, but if hundreds of dog walkers are enjoying the park daily and there are 10 to 15 problems each year, this does not seem to be a "huge" issue. Not one that requires a backlash such as Mr. Sullivan is suggesting: "If this keeps us, I'd say keep the dogs out of the park."
Incidents between dogs and people can happen anywhere. Even if all dogs were to be leashed in the park, there would still be incidents. A small child coming up to pet an unpredictable, untrained, or scared dog on a leash can still be met with a bite. Requiring all dogs to be leashed at all times -- or worse yet, kicking them out of the park entirely -- would be a huge loss for the community. A dog park, though wonderful, is not the same. My small, mild-mannered Yorkshire Terrier would not be safe in a dog park, and we would both miss the great joy of meandering through nature freely.
The vast majority of exchanges between people and dogs in the park are extremely positive. I would ask us all to be sensible. Dog owners, if your dog is unpredictable, please keep him leashed. Kennedy Park Committee, please don't go overboard. Keep the park the gem that is for dogs and dog owners, alike.