Sent: Monday, October 06, 2014 10:04 PM
To: Nancy Kramer
Subject: ORDINANCE TO REGULATE DOGS ON HUNTLEY
I strongly oppose 4.2.2 of the proposed changes to the ANIMAL CONTROL ORDINANCE:
"4.2 Under this section, an animal is causing a nuisance, or is a menace to persons or property, under any of the following conditions: 4.2.2 If it is present on the public property commonly known as Huntley Meadows during any sporting event."
With this proposal, by definition, a dog, no matter how well‐behaved, how well trained, walking with its owner, even on a leash, is illegal if there is any form of sporting event happening anywhere on Huntley Meadows. As a citizen of Norwich, I find this unacceptable on many levels.
Neil's preface states that this is because a 2‐year old was bitten at a sporting event and required stitches. One badly behaving dog and inattentive dog owner should not eliminate all dogs and their owners from using Huntley Meadows. This ordinance is an over‐reaction to a freak incident.
I understand a dog running amuk through a sports event is inappropriate, and dog owners that intentionally and repeatedly allow their dog to do this should face consequences. And dog attacks are completely unacceptable. However, this ordinance change blackballs all dogs and all dog owners. Presumed guilty without evidence.
Public property is... public. It is multi‐use land. No one group should be able to dominate and exclude other groups from using it. In this proposed ordinance change, sports activities will have first priority, dog walkers last priority. This is absurd and unfair.
Not all Norwich residents can or want to participate in group sporting events. Many people enjoy the solitude of walking or jogging on Huntley Meadow, with or without their dog. Many elderly people use the Meadows for fitness and social purposes while walking their dog. Why should Norwich deprive these residents of maintaining their social connections and fitness goals?
I am a dog owner. I enjoy walking the perimeter of Huntley Meadows in the mornings and early evenings. It is good exercise for me, and good exercise for my dog. I meet and visit with other dog‐owning friends, and we enjoy each other's company as much as the dogs enjoy the company of their kind. Why should my use and enjoyment of the field be made illegal if a sports activity is occuring elsewhere?
And frankly, I can't help but notice that a lot of the sporting events on Huntley Meadows are not made of Norwich residents and Norwich teams. Why should my access to Norwich land be deprived because of field use from other towns or the River Valley Club's use of the tennis courts?
Several years ago, when the natural area of the meadow was reduced to put in another soccer field, Jill Kearney and the Rec. Department promised to put in a walking path ‐‐ for people and dogs ‐‐ around the perimeter of Huntley Meadow. That never happened. Such a path would define a space for walking dogs and a space for sports. There is no reason the two activities must be mutually exclusive.
I think the most disturbing aspect of this proposed change is it shows a lack of tolerance for other groups. Norwich has a diverse collection of citizens, with different interests and different approaches to life. We need to respect everyone's rights to the same enjoyment of the public lands that we would claim for ourselves.
I think Norwich is starting down a very slippery, very anti‐community, slope here.