Lenox's unrestrained dog issue breaks through again


LENOX -- The continuing problem of unrestrained dogs in Kennedy Park has surfaced again, despite signs at park entrances reminding users that "Dogs must be under their owners' control at all times."

A Pittsfield woman has reported that an unleashed dog attacked and bit her 3-year-old son Monday during a family outing in the park. The dog's owner was nowhere in sight until it was too late, she added.

"We are lucky that my son is fine and recovered from the traumatic experience," said Maria Elaskar-Stack in a phone interview. "However, we wish we could continue to enjoy the park without having to worry about irresponsible people not attending to their dogs."

Elaskar-Stack said that she, her husband Sean Stack, her son and their newborn baby were on a hike when the incident took place. "We see unleashed dogs all the time," she said. "It shouldn't be on us to prevent this from happening, it should be the owners' responsibility."

She said that until a restricted area for dogs to romp unleashed is designated by the town, "people must leash their dogs at all times."

The Kennedy Park Committee will meet at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, June 19, in Town Hall. A fenced-off dog park for a site within the park is on the agenda, said Selectman Kenneth Fowler, an advocate for the project. Fowler is the Select Board's liaison to the committee.

"There's a long-term culture of dogs being walked in Kennedy Park unleashed," Fowler said.

"It's a huge problem," said Lenox Animal Control Officer Mike Sullivan. "It's so ridiculous, The signs should mention a leash. There are too many incidents, the whole combination of everything up there is scary. It's not the case that dogs can always be controlled."

Sullivan compiled a report for the town recently listing 10 to 15 incidents per year. "If this keeps up, I'd say, keep the dogs out of the park," Sullivan told The Eagle. "Most people don't really know how their dogs are going to react."

He called a fenced-off dog park "a great idea," though it might become too crowded because it would attract owners from Pittsfield or Lee, where there are no designated areas for their dogs.

A town bylaw approved by voters in 1990 states that "dog owners are required to restrain their dogs when they are not on the owners' property. Hunting dogs when being used for hunting or training are exempt."

At least two of the signs at Kennedy Park entrances make no mention of leashes, nor does the bylaw. Massachusetts has no statewide leash law, except for rest areas along state highways.

On April 19, an unrestrained dog spooked four horses carrying riders in the park; three were thrown to the ground. A Lenox resident, Sarah McKenna, and an exchange student from Italy were severely injured and are continuing to recover.

To contact Clarence Fanto: cfanto@yahoo.com or (413) 637-2551. On Twitter: @BE_cfanto


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