Serving Brooklyn's Off-Leash Community

Frequently Asked Questions

Nethermead/Winter Hours - Dog Attacks - Dog Runs -Landlord

FAQ: What are those vehicles spraying around the park? Is it dangerous?

Answer from the Park's Chief Botanist...

"What you are seeing is tree watering. We use a spray rig or a tank attached to a pickup truck to water. The new donor trees are watered twice a week during their first summer and nature hasn't been helping us out much this year. We would never be spraying herbicide on the trees!

We aren’t doing any herbicide spraying now. We may be doing some spot spraying of poison ivy along woodland paths soon, and eventually we may need to address the perimeter sidewalk cobble stone weed issue with some Roundup. Whenever we spray herbicide, however, we put up signs 24 hours before we spray"

How come we lost the Nethermead 5 p.m. winter and summer off-leash privileges?

Where the difficulty lies is that when the Health Department code was rewritten in 2007, "9 p.m. to 9 a.m." language was dropped in minutes before the vote was taken by the Health Department representatives. Up to that point, there had been no mention of specific hours; hours that were to have been left to the discretion of the Park's Commissioner. The way the code is now written, exceptions cannot be made without a change in the law. FIDO has consulted with attorneys familiar with the case and their opinion is it that there isn't the desire or the will on the part of the Bloomberg administration to further change the code - to make afternoon hour exceptions for individual parks.

We have sense that Prospect Park's Administration is still on our side, that the value of responsible off-leash has gone a long way to make Prospect Park a safe healthy place for dogs and their people as well as other park goers. For over ten years, 5 p.m. weekday afternoon hours in the Nethermead were considered more than a courtesy. People were coming out with their dogs anyway after work, why not have an isolated meadow where the park administration knew where everyone was? It was a plan carefully worked out by the Prospect Park Alliance, Henry Stern, the then Park's Commissioner and FIDO in Prospect Park. There were hardly ever more than twenty dogs on that one hillside of the Nethermead at any one time. At no time were passersby threatened - many even detoured out of their way across the park to watch the dogs at play.

Landlords Vrs Pets

A Landlord's Obligation to Permit 'Support' Pets

Warren A. Estis and Alexander Lycoyannis

New York Law Journal


Generally, New York courts will enforce prohibitions on maintaining pets contained in residential and proprietary leases or condominium and cooperative house rules. However, exceptions arise from the provisions of the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA),1 the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL)2 and the New York City Humans Rights Law (NYCHRL),3 which, under certain circumstances, require landlords and boards to permit residents with disabilities to keep pets. As one court put it, "the legislative advances protecting the disabled…require the no-pet clause to bow upon proof of a specific, particularized need to keep a dog, which need arises out of the handicap."....

Read the full pdf

Dog on Dog Attack...

Before you resort to the legal system

2013 - We need an Arlo's Law, sensible, legal approach to dog on dog attacks.

Some dog picking on your dog?
Occasionally one on one play grows to be two one one play, then three on one play; then someone goes for a nip... Dogs can be overwhelmed by rough play, especially puppies. Do the work before it starts; separate everyone and start over. If there's one dog who can't stop, leash up for a bit and move on.

If it escalates into a melee and someone gets toothed, there will likely be lots of yelling, screaming, recrimination, all in the 30 seconds as people work to separate everyone. As a dog owner you have the responsibility to remain on the scene even if your dog is perceived to be the instigator and everyone is angry at you. Give someone your contact information should the other dog require medical attention. Even though it may have been a play accident, in all likelihood, this will be a dark moment in your life for quite a while. Once people realize that you and your dog are not predators and have a history with off-leash, things will go back to normal. But study your dog; if rough play is becoming a habit, then seek out a trainer as well..

There's a dog who singles out your dog: goes straight for a nip every time?

The owner must get involved and keep their dog away. They need to be vigilant, watch for your dog whenever they're in the park-leash up immediately if you're in the area. You too should be vigilant and if your see them at a distance, leash your dog until you know it's safe to pass them by. Being in the right is not worth exposing your dog to medical expenses. Remember, there are occasional owners who are in denial; who find that their newly acquired dog comes with a few issues. They have to do the work required whether it's just staying on top of things or resorting to working with a trainer.

When all else fails...

(condensed from an e-mail) A friend in Indianapolis recently endured a terrible tragedy of watching one of her 2 beloved Brittney Spaniels get mauled to death by her neighbor's pitbull. Her other dog was severely injured too and she sufferred a few bites in the frenzy too. She's looking for places where she can get info regarding issues such as hers and doesn't know where to start. Any resources she can tap into for just this sort of info?

She should also contact the ASPCA and Humane Society in her area, and Google "Veterinary public health" and "Animal Law Enforcement" and "Animal Nuisance Complaint" for Indianapolis specifically and Indiana in general. The AKC website may have links. She could also contact the State Bar Association and see if they can point her in the right direction. This referral type service is usually free. If she does go with an attorney, the Bar Assn. can help her find one that specializes in animal law. Yes, attorneys are expensive, but if she knows specifically what she needs him/her to do, that can save time and money. Unfortunately, dog-on-dog violence is a property crime in most places and pain and suffering does not factor in. However, if she can make a case that this dog poses a threat to humans (her, for instance) she may get some action.

New York City Small Claims Court
Legally, no matter who is at fault, the dog owner whose dog who causes the documented injuries is libel for the expenses. If you pursue a legal claim, you must follow prescribed steps in order to satisfy a small claims court. Know that anything other than direct evidence, such as creating an on-line buzz about the dog owner or demanding pain and suffering may work against you.

Dog Runs -The Volunteer Manager of the Tompkins Square Dog Run created a pdf about how to handle dog fights that result in vet bills, and how to get the attacking dog's owner to pay if they don't do so voluntarily. Check Dog Court pdf for a Small Claims Court Guide.

Dog Menacing People...
Not a frequently asked question but worthwhile perusing this recent legal ruling pertaining to neglegence.

Ruling June 9th, 2009

Melanie Petrone, Respondent, v Bernard
Fernandez, Defendant, James McCloy, Appellant.
Terence F. Gilheany, for appellant. Submitted by
Michael A. Cervini, for respondent.

Sayeth the Court of Appeals: "[W]hen harm is caused by a domestic animal, its owner's liability is determined solely by ... the rule of strict liability for harm caused by a domestic animal whose owner knows or should have known of the animal's vicious propensities." Other concepts of negligence, or, here, violation of a leash ordinance, will not do.
Download the full ruling - pdf

Prevent Attacks: people or domestic pets...
Dog on dog attacks are generally considered property damage - no pain or suffering. But...

You dog is not allowed to attack or assault people or pets. Nor is he allowed to fight other dogs (Administrative Code Section 17-343).

Aggressive behavior may be excused if:
a) your dog attacks someone who breaks into your house;
b) your dog attacks someone who is tormenting, abusing or assaulting him;
c) your dog attacks someone who's trying to commit a crime;
d) your dog attacks in response to pain or injury;
e) your dog attacks to protect himself, his kennels or his offspring (Administrative Code, Section 17-347).

If your dog attacks or assaults a person or another pet, and if none of the above exceptions apply, the City may hold a hearing to decide if your dog is a "dangerous dog" (as defined by Administrative Code, Section 17-342).

Dog Runs...

Why Not have an all hours Dog Run In Prospect Park?
Other parks have a closed off doggy sections for all hours off-leash (exp. Union Square). There's even doggy parks like the one in Red Hook/Carroll Gardens for dogs off-leash at all-hours. So why do we have to be bound by the evening hours to let our dogs be off-leash? Why don't we have an additional fenced off section just for dogs so we don't have to wait until 9 pm before we can let our dogs free?

A: We suspect that any of the neighborhoods you mentioned would gladly trade their dog runs for the incredible off-leash space given to us by Prospect Park's former chief administrator, Tupper Thomas. The dog run issue has been suggested before and Park officials have not displayed much enthusiasm for the idea.

If we were to get a fenced area in Prospect Park, chances are excellent that one tiny area would be all we would get. It would be in a remote location, to boot. Just imagine the several hundred dogs that run on the 90-acre Long Meadow cooped up in a 1-acre run! Also, current Parks Dept. policy requires sponsoring organization to raise funds to build and maintain dog runs. Construction cost for a 1-acre run start at about $150,000; yearly maintenance is a couple of grand. Off-leash with designated hours (a multi-user space concept) costs $Zero!

But here in Park Slope there is Washington Park Dog Run (4th Street btw 3rd & 4th Avenues) aas well as a pocket park beside the Prospect Expressway at 19th Street & 7th Ave. There's also the brand new Kensington dog run beside the Tennis Center at Caton and Cony Island Avenue. While the wheels of progress are oft flattened to a square by budgets restraints, we occsionally have good news on this front.