By Gordon Davis
The Worcester City Council will hold public hearings on the Master Plan for Dogs in what are now people parks and on dedicated doggie parks. The hearing is scheduled for this Thursday, September 15, 5:30 pm, in City Hall Chamber.
Right now no dogs are allowed in any City of Worcester park – on leash or off leash. Some people consider this regulation too restrictive. However, there are reasons that such regulations were enacted: bad doggie owners. There are good and bad doggie owners: The good doggie owners spay or neuter their dogs, keep them up to date on their vaccinations and socialize them. The bad doggie owners often don’t. Lots don’t clean up the shit that their dogs leave behind. I have lived in our house almost 40 years, and I have only seen one doggie owner clean up their doggie’s poop. Most of the time I find the doggie poop on the lawn.
I imagine that most doggie owners, when walking their dogs in City parks, will not pick up their doggies’ shit. Such people are not good doggie owners.
I also know that many people of all races are afraid of doggies. Some like we Black people have been hunted by racists and their dogs. Other people, especially children, have a natural fear of dangerous animals. Even dangerous doggies on a leash sometimes bark and acting aggressively. When a doggie is barking and acting aggressively, a good owner will make the animal heel and shorten his leash and move away from the people being frightened. Sometimes even good owners will instead argue and say “Oh, he does not bite.”
There are about 900,000 reported dog bite incidents a year in the United States. This is more than auto accidents in the United States. It is likely dog bites are under reported. There are around 700 doggie bites in Massachusetts a year!
In 1997 the City of Worcester found out it could not make all dog owners pick up their dogs’ shit. Nothing has been done to ensure that ALL of the dogs’ owners will pick up their shit this time around. This will mean unsanitary conditions in our city parks meant for people … sitting on the grass and having picnics could be a challenge.
There is no plan to stop the dogs, even with good owners, from frightening people, especially children. The people who are afraid of dogs will eventually be driven out of our parks.
I like dogs, but I think there should be a city dog park built on City of Worcester property near Coal Mine Brook. This piece of land was proposed by former Manager O’Brien to be a park with a bike path to Regatta Point. It has not been a people’s park – so people without dogs and who are uncomfortable around them will not be driven out of the area, as would be case elsewhere.
Since Coal Mine Brook will be a dog park only the dogs’ owners can easily impose a clean up your shit rule, and people without dogs will not have to put up with the doggies’ messes.
It was not that long ago the City of Worcester CLOSED Worcester swimming pools with the pretext that it did not have the money to maintain the pools. Of course the children of the city, who are increasingly Black, Hispanic and immigrants, suffered. Today the Worcester City Schools are overcrowded with up to 34 students in some classrooms. The City schools are begging people for money.
It does not make any sense now for the City of Worcester to consider building five dog-only parks at a cost of $400,000. When the Worcester Public Schools go begging?
I think one dog only park at Coal Mine Brook as a pilot would be sensible. I do not think that spending $2,000,000 on dogs, plus annual maintenance, is sensible.
It seems that Councilor Rosen, the dog owners’ champion, has failed to see the larger picture.