By Army Sacks
Daily News Writer
most mornings, Lia Mehos dangles a leash by her side and
watches her collie. Lucy, run free and unfettered through
the fenceless grassy meadows in Prospect Park.
526 acre Brooklyn oasis offers the most generous off-leash
privileges of any of the city's parks. Resembling an English
countryside more than urban sprawl, the park provides Mehos
and hundreds of dog owners the longest off-leash courtesy
hours and the largest spaces - including three meadows,
where a spring Saturday attracts up to 700 free-range canines.
will wake me up in the middle of the night and want me
to throw the ball - it's a clear sign she needs to be able
to run in the park,: says Mehos, 24, a teacher who arrives
with Lucy a little past 7am.
to the strict enforcement of a good canine stewardship
by FIDO - the Fellowship in the Interests of Dogs and their
Owners - Lucy continues to be a happy and healthy camper.
being able to let your dog off-leash is a drag - especially
if you have a high energy dog," says Mary McInerney,
President of FIDO in Prospect Park. Her mantra to owners:
"Take control of your dogs."
city's leash law requires that a dog must be kept on a
tether no more than 6 feet long. Violators face a minimum
fine of $100.
city Park's department enforces the law in parks, but in
recognition of dogs' need to exercise, it has made an exception
in certain parks through courtesy off-leash access rules
between 9pm and 9am.
1998, however, the city sought to crack down on the off-leash
activity in areas other than the myriad of dog runs that
dot the city's parks. Several parks eliminated their off-leash
Park, however, had no run. "We have a large dog community.
We would need ten dog runs to accommodate them, and the
park would be one big dog run," said Tupper Thomas,
administrator of Prospect Park.
to preserve the off-leash privileges, a group of dog owners
formed FIDO and offered a commitment to Thomas to self-police
encourages owners to keep dogs away from the soccer fields,
bridle paths, jogging paths, and the wooded areas where
birds nest. They provide extra bags so owners can clean
up after their dogs and offer lectures on responsible ownership.
They also donate garbage cans and designed drinking fountains.
have the most lenient rules but have the strongest and
most effective of the dog organizations," said Thomas.
successful efforts recently resulted in extending off-leash
hours, which now begin at 5pm year round in the Nethermead,
and in all three meadows throughout the winter.