A steady stream of complaints against dogs inside the Massapequa Preserve may result in more tickets for pooch owners, said officials associated with the greenbelt.
The Nassau County Parks Department, which operates the preserve, mandates that no dogs be allowed inside its parks, except for its six dog runs spread across the county. There are no official dog runs inside the preserve.
According to Lt. Karl Scheopp of the 7th Precinct, police will respond to dog complaints, but it will not be the highest of priorities. "We will be more observant and cognizant of complaints ... but there will be no special 'poop patrol,'" he said.
Signs are posted throughout the park warning dog walkers of their violations. However, many local residents have been walking their dogs in the park for years and ignore the warnings, which until recently were not enforced.
The "no-pets" law will be enforced according to complaints," said Scheopp, a 23-year veteran of the Nassau County Police Department.
Richard Schary, a representative of the Long Island Greenbelt Trail Conference, said the group receives complaints regarding dumping, vandalism and pollution along the trails. Few, if any, compliants are made against dogs.
"There are a lot of problems, just like any other preserve," said Schary. "But the bulk of complaints go to the county, not to the Greenbelt Trail Conference."
The Greenbelt Trail Conference, which takes no official position regarding dogs in the preserve, monitors activity inside the wooden interiors of the preserve. Schary said the trails have sparse use, and most dog walking is done along the paved bicycle paths. Bicycle paths can greet up to 700 bicyclists, rollerbladers, joggers and walkers per hour on peak days, he added.
Schary, like most dog walkers, would like to see the preserve adopt New York State and Suffolk County dog walking laws on an experimental basis. Such a measure would allow owners to legally bring their hounds inside the preserve, providing that the dog is on a leash and properly cleaned up after.
He warns that any measure taken should be done with care, since new problems are likely to arise. For instance, a dog run inside the preserve could create added pollution.