Dogs may soon be able to run freely in two town parks, but leash laws will be tightened in all other areas of Clifton Park if a proposal by the Town Board is approved.
Residents can give their views on the plan at the Town Board meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at Clifton Park Town Hall.
Owners can now unleash their pets in the Mary Jane Row Dog Park on Vischer Ferry Road, located a half-mile south of Grooms Road. The park is restricted to town residents by permit only.
This month, the Town Board drafted a plan to designate a second site, Kinns Road Park, a 64-acre area along the south side of Kinns Road, as a second leash-free zone. At the same time, the board plans to put more bite into laws restricting dogs from running at large, as much as doubling current fines of about $50 for the first time owners are caught letting their dogs roam. Fines are currently handed out to owners of dogs running at large, chasing cars or bikes, repeatedly nuisance howling or barking, causing damage to property, or threatening a person or another dog. But under the board’s proposal, new leash laws would have more on enforcing and levying fines.
Mary Legge, who has lived on Vischer Road in Clifton Park for more than 40 years, said she’ll be attending the hearing to oppose the changes in the town code.
“I have three dogs, and all of them are trained to stay by my side even off their leashes,” Legge said. “There’s no reason people can’t take the time and train their dogs; other dogs shouldn’t suffer by being restricted where they can walk.”
Legge used to take her dogs to the Kinns Road Park, but has found it too crowded in recent years.
“My friend and I discovered Kinns Park before anyone even knew it was there, and when we walked there, no one was around,” Legge said. “Now, you drive by there at 4 in the afternoon and you can’t even get a parking spot.”
Legge now takes her dogs to the Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve, a popular spot for walking dogs and one of the sites that would require dogs be leashed if the new measure passes.
Beverly Czub, of Miller Road, also a dog owner, said she has been urging the town to enforce a leash law for years.
“At first, I was opposed to a leash law, but now I’ve supported it for a long time,” Czub said. “I think the Kinns Road Park will be a good place for dogs, because the Mary Jane Row Park just doesn’t cut it for larger dogs who need more room. This new law is good for dog people; I’m happy for the dogs and happy for the owners.”
There are regulations for every resident using the dog park that would also apply to Kinns Road Park if a leash-free zone is established there. The rules state those using the dog park do so at their own risk; dogs must be licensed and be up-to-date on their vaccinations; no food or rawhide is allowed; aggressive dogs cannot enter the area if another dog is in the vicinity; and the town assumes no liability for injury or damage to dogs or people using the park.
The Town Board came up with the plan after complaints from a few residents about being approached by dogs while they were walking in Vischer Ferry Park.
“For the safety of our pets and families, the time has come for a townwide leash law,” Councilwoman Lynda Walowit said. “It’s everyone’s responsibility to make this work.”
Legge said she plans to appeal to the board to rethink the new restrictions on parks, including Vischer Ferry Preserve, or she will follow through with her own alternate plan.
“I’ll move out of town,” Legge said. “I’ve trained 8-week-old puppies to behave, and anyone can do it if they take the time. There’s no reason for dogs to be uncontrollable, but if they are, other dogs shouldn’t be punished for this.”