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Letter: Dogs Are Man’s Best Friend, But Not in Port Washington

Did you know that approximately 45 percent of the U.S. population owns at least one dog. The most recent census indicates we have just over 5,500 households which means approximately 2,000 dogs call Port Washington home. I believe that the majority of dog owners would agree that their pet canine is an integral part of their life and family. With their never ending need to please, our dogs bring joy and unconditional love to our lives. Compared to the generous gifts they dispense, dogs just require basic care, food, water and most importantly socialization. This is a small price to pay, which is why we have so many dog owners living in our community.

 

Ask any parent about the importance of socializing their children and I can bet it is high on their list. Ask a child how much fun he or she had after playing in the park all day with their fellow neighborhood kids. Then ask their parents how good their child slept that night. It goes without saying that a little socialization goes a long way. Our dogs count on us to provide proper socialization and exercise as well.

Why does Port remain a desirable place to live? Why are our home prices more resilient to an economic recession than other areas? I bet it has to do with the friendly family atmosphere; the great schools; the dining, shopping and culture activities; the waterfront area; the lush and green parks and so on. From an outside perspective, one would think Port would be an ideal place to raise a family, which includes the family dog. That’s exactly what I thought, until I began to look around a little bit more closely, being a new dog owner myself. You would be amazed at how many “No Dogs” signs you encounter. I enjoy watching the sun set from the town dock with my family, until I was told that I had to remove my dog that was peacefully lying on the ground taking in the view. The worker at the town dock sympathized with me but she has to follow the policy and told me to call the town and complain about the no dog rule. Needless to say, nothing has changed.

Then there is the recent incident at Merriman Park. Several months ago I found out by word of mouth that a small group of dedicated dog owners gathers at the park during early morning hours (prior to 8 a.m.) on the weekends. These owners let their dogs run off leash for about 20 minutes or so. I was thrilled to learn about this informal playgroup and my labrador waits patiently for that weekend romp with his newfound friends. This is a much better venue than your typical dog run. These dog owners and fellow neighbors take pride in their pets. They clean up after their dogs and ensure that the dogs are not playing too rough or loudly. I never had a problem with any of the other dogs or owners. However, it appears that some of the adjacent homeowners have taken issue as the local police were called and we were requested to remove our dogs from the park or face a summons. I cannot express my outrage and disappointment with the Port community. The anti-dog laws on the books are clearly outdated and need proper reform.

How can Port Washington be home to the largest no kill animal shelter in the country, and yet one cannot let their dog socialize in a park a few blocks away? Something is wrong with this picture. I call upon other frustrated fellow Port dog owners to write in and voice their opinions and maybe we will be heard and changes will take place.

Michael Iwanciw and Quincy the dog