Pet First Aid/CPR Workshop


In November, A-DOG sponsored a free Pet First Aid/CPR workshop featuring Amy Breton, CVT, VTS (ECC) of Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners of Waltham. Amy generously donated her expert presentation, accompanied by her “demo-dog”, Meeko, a 10 year old Aussie mix who had assisted Amy with hundreds of workshops. A-DOG board member, Mary McCartney organized the workshop. Arlington’s Animal Control Officer, Amanda Kennedy, helped Mary to arrange this valuable, potentially life-saving educational event, which was held at the, Arlington Police Department Community Room. The room was packed with an enthusiastic audience of pet owners. While admission was free, A-DOG collected optional donations for two charities selected by Amy and Amanda. These organizations: Frankie’s Friends, a charitable pet foundation that benefits pets needing life-saving medical care and the Animal Rescue League of Boston that helps animals in numerous ways, including helping our own Animal Control Officer rescue injured pets or wildlife. The event raised about $100 for these causes, and matching gifts from A-DOG enabled us to donate $100 to each charity.


The presentation covered many topics essential to canine and feline first aid in detail (Amy also briefly touched on emergencies involving smaller pets such as rabbits, rodents and birds.) This included information to help owners identify emergency situations including abnormalities in temperature, pulse and blood flow. It also discussed how to stabilize injured pets, for example techniques for bandaging, and transfer them safely to the emergency medical facility.   Rescue measures such as CPR and Heimlich techniques to dislodge foreign objects in choking situations. However, Amy stressed that, in such situations, it is critical to provide whatever first aid you can but seek emergency professional care as soon as possible. This very thorough two hour workshop included demonstrations of bandaging, CPR and other techniques on the very patient Meeko!


Photos:  Bandaging demo with Amy and Meeko (above); Below: Mary introduces the event; A full-house audience in the community room; and more workshop photos.

Maryintro crowd doggydemocpr

doggydemocloseup doggydemoexit

The Community Preservation Act: Town Meeting 2014


A view of the dog park built in Randolph, MA with Community Preservation Act funds (photo from the Friends of Randolph Dog Park website)


by Pam Hallett

As many A-DOG members are also Town Meeting members I am reaching out to you to be sure you understand the Community Preservation Act (CPA).  I am working with a small group of individuals trying to bring The Community Preservation Act to 2014 Town Meeting for adoption.  (If Town Meeting votes in favor of the CPA, it will then be put on the ballot so that the voters can decide whether Arlington should adopt the CPA.)  This link gives an overview of the Act.  This flyer explains how a small property tax surcharge ($86 per average household per year) could generate a significant amount of funding to use on open space, parks and outdoor recreational facilities, historic preservation and affordable housing.

So, think new dog parks, Thorndike Dog Park improvements, Menotomy Rocks Park and the Arlington Reservoir improvements to name a few parks/recreational facilities which could use the funding.  The Town of Randolph received funding from their CPA to create a new dog park in 2011 and again in 2013 to plant a screen of mature trees along the edge of the park.

The state provides an annual match to the fund.  Last year it was a 52% match.  Arlington could be looking at collecting over $1M each year to spend as the community sees fit.  The State match would increase that amount significantly.   Please read the information on the links for more specific information.

I hope that A-DOG will support the adoption of the CPA and that Town Meeting members who are also A-DOG members will stand up and support the adoption of the CPA at Town Meeting. Please contact me for more information and discussion.

Pam Hallett <>


Notes: This article represents the opinion of the author, an A-DOG member, and not an official position of A-DOG.  The Board of Selectmen has now voted (4-1), in their March 10 hearing, to recommend that Town Meeting vote in favor of the CPA.  Their draft recommended vote is here.  A report from the Town Manager to the Selectmen, describing possible projects the CPA might contribute to, is here.

Therapy Dog Event Featuring Human and Canine Volunteers from Dog B.O.N.E.S.:Therapy Dogs of Massachusetts


Thank you to volunteers from Dog B.O.N.E.S.:  Therapy Dogs of Massachusetts for a very successful, informative and moving presentation on Therapy Dogs on the evening of November 13, 2013.  Thank-you, too, to the Fox Library, including librarian Laura Lintz, for hosting the event and to the Russell Fund, represented by Karen Dillon, for their support, including a donation to Dog B.O.N.E.S.


The presentation was moderated by Ellen Duranceau, Dog B.O.N.E.S. volunteer and instructor, as well as an A-DOG Board Member.  Ellen explained the physical and psychological benefits that therapy dogs can offer to people of all ages.  For example, evidence has shown  beneficial physiological effects from intereracting with a dog, such as decreases in blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones, and increases in feel-good hormones including oxytocin, also known as the “cuddle chemical,” because it is released when bonding with a new baby or romantic partner.  Interacting with a dog even for a short time raises spirits,  and can reduce feelings of isolation and grief, and has been shown to improve memory and communication in the elderly.


Ellen explained the difference between therapy dogs and service dogs.  Service dogs are trained to perform specific functions for an individual with a particular need, such as a guide dog or hearing ear dog, or a dog that assists with post-tramautic stress syndrome, and are allowed by law to travel wherever their people go.  Therapy dogs focus not on their handler, but on comforting other individuals in need.  Therapy dogs assist a wide range of populations including patients in hospitals, the elderly in nursing homes, Alzheimer’s patients, people awaiting cancer treatment, and children  with  reading difficulties, emotional or physical disabilities, or autism.


An important part of the event was hearing about the work of the nonprofit, volunteer-run organization Dog B.O.N.E.S. in certifying therapy dog teams, stressing that it is a team – the dog and handler together– that is certified through the organization.   Ellen’s own two dogs have worked with her as Dog B.O.N.E.S. therapy dogs, visiting the elderly in Arlington and surrounding towns for 10 years, and only recently did she make the difficult decision to retire them.  The work takes a lot of energy and focus and, Ellen explained, it is very important that the human volunteers ensure that the experience is as good for the dogs as it is for the people they are visiting.


Ellen also explained that not every wonderful dog is destined to be a therapy dog. Dogs need to be outgoing, friendly, comfortable with new settings, calm, and well-trained. They cannot be overly aloof, show aggression, jump up, or mouth people. The main focus of the certification process is to ensure that only dogs that will enjoy therapy dog visits and be appropriate for such visits are certified.


After this background about Therapy Dogs, most of the program was devoted to hearing from three therapy dog teams:  Arlington resident Brittany DeLorme with her dog Charley; Agnes Shanahan with her dogs Suzie and Rosie, and Marci Goldberg Gorski, also an Arlington resident, A-DOG member and Dog B.O.N.E.S. instructor, and her dog Sophie.


Brittany explained how her background as a children’s librarian introduced her to the great value that therapy dogs can bring to children, especially those having reading difficulties.  Reading to a dog, a nonjudgmental and calming audience, has helped many children to improve their reading skills and confidence.  Brittany’s experience observing this made her want to get involved, herself in therapy dog work.  She rescued her dog Charley, a beagle mix, and quickly realized that working with children was the perfect vocation for Charley.  During the presentation, Charley and the other therapy dogs certainly demonstrated their patience and sweet temperaments as several children enthusiastically approached them and wanted to interact throughout the event.


Agnes explained how she had lost her beloved dog and had vowed never to have another one, because the death of her dog had been so painful. Then she agreed to foster a dog from the NEADS service dog program prior to the dog’s further training as a service dog.   Agnes fell so in love with this black lab, Suzie,  that she was relieved when Suzie later was removed from the NEADS service dog program, due to her nervousness in traffic, making it possible for  Agnes to  adopt Suzie .  They quickly became a therapy dog team.  One of their most rewarding activities has been to visit severely disabled children in a residential center.  Agnes finds the work deeply satisfying and moving, particularly when Suzie brings smiles to the children’s faces.  Suzie also helps out as a reading partner for a public library program.   More recently, Agnes adopted Rosie, another NEADS “furloughed” black lab, who is preparing for final therapy dog certification.


Marci described how she rescued her dog, Sophie, a white-blonde golden retriever, when living in the Netherlands.  Like the others, she quickly realized that Sophie’s gentle nature, and interest in meeting new people, would make her an ideal therapy dog.  Sophie and Marci have been visiting a vocational program for young adults in Arlington for a number of years, and had become quite attached to the people there, though they have had to seek other sites to visit because Sophie can no longer manage the stairs.  They also visit local colleges during exam-week stress relief events, and help at the annual “critter day” at the Children’s Museum in Boston.  Marci emphasized a point also made by Agnes, that the staff at hospitals and nursing homes, working in an emotionally stressful environment, often derive as much benefit from the visiting therapy dogs as do their patients.



Ellen, Brittany, Agnes and Marci addressed many wide-ranging and thoughtful audience questions from the sizeable group gathered, and gave attendees ample opportunity to interact with their dogs.  It was clear from hearing the volunteers speak about their passion for visiting with their dogs, and their dogs’ excitement about their “jobs,” that the simple process of having people interact with dogs offers benefits to everyone involved, not just those the dogs visit, but also the dogs’ owners and the dogs themselves.


For more information about Dog BONES and becoming a therapy dog team, see


Dog Park Etiquette workshop #1 was a big hit!



On October 24, 2013, A-DOG sponsored the first in a series of workshops to help dog owners successfully navigate the joys and potential challenges of off-leash recreation.  Alana Meserve of ZenDog Lexington gave a very informative, enjoyable presentation covering such topics as canine body language, to teach the audience about clues that your dog is enjoying his time in the dog park or, instead, is not having a great time or perhaps is even in danger of getting into trouble.



Arlington’s Animal Control Officer, Amanda Kennedy was also present to give her input on behavioral and other issues that can come up during off-leash recreation.  Overall, the presentation helped dog owners to learn about issues that they can deal with themselves, with training and control of their own dogs and communication with other dog owners, versus situations in which they should seek professional assistance and enforcement from the ACO.  Also, information in the workshop enabled owners to better understand whether their own dog could benefit from professional training.




Moderators Joan Black (VP Membership) and Susan Ruderman (VP Development) made the program run smoothly, facilitating discussion and ensuring that audience questions were addressed. Other volunteers included Ellen Kravitz (audio/visual) and Pam Hallett, Laura Gerson and Sue Doctrow (greeting, signing up members, etc.).



We were also happy to welcome Leslie Mayer, A-DOG’s liaison to the Park and Recreation Commission (PRC).  In coordination with the PRC and the Arlington Recreation Department, A-DOG and Alana look forward to holding future educational events, including “live demos” to be held at off-leash recreation sites such as the Thorndike OLRA.  In addition, we were happy to see that ACMI sent journalist/cameraman Jay Sundar Rajan to cover the event, in recognition of the community importance of programs that promote responsible dog ownership and recreation.  A-DOG was delighted, too, to welcome new members who were introduced to A-DOG that evening and decided to join us!

Stay tuned for the next A-DOG educational program!




Exciting A-DOG Education Event October 24

Dog Park Etiquette

October 24 2013 Education Event

A-DOG is pleased to present Alana Meserve of Zen Dog Training in the first of a series of A-DOG-sponsored information seminars about dog behavior and training.  Join us on Thursday, October 24, 2013 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. in the Robbins Library Community Room for

Dog Park Etiquette

Why you should attend:

Knowing the elements of good dog park etiquette helps to prevent aggression between dogs and unhappiness with other dog owners!  Dog park issues addressed include reading your dog’s body language, introducing a new puppy, resolving conflicts with other dog owners, and more.  Please leave your dog at home.  (Note that the session will start promptly at 7:00 p.m., so we encourage you to arrive beginning at 6:45 p.m.)

We will gather specific questions at the event, but if you have particular issues you would like to see covered (whether in this session or future sessions), please make a note of your interests in the comments section below.


An Inspiration: A-DOG member Christine and her therapy dog Windy bring comfort in Newtown, Boston and here at home

An essay and photos contributed by Christine Anastos, A-DOG member, to share her meaningful work helping chlidren through tragedy and challenge with her sensitive, loving therapy dog, Windy.  (Please note that the two photos of Windy with Boston Police Department officers were taken by Gretta Rybus)


IMAG1496 - Copy“I think that you should get a gold medal for the best, calmest, and nicest dog in the whole entire world! … We all love you and we know you love all of us.” ~5th Grade Student from  Newtown, CT


On October 10, 2009, I was fortunate to have been given the opportunity to adopt a Black Labrador Retriever, and retired guide dog, Windy, from Guiding Eyes for the Blind in Yorktown Heights, NY. From the moment I met her, and saw that “look” in her eyes, I vowed to share this amazing dog with others. Windy fills my life with those “Heavenly Days” – popularized by songwriter Patty Griffin – and, I strive to ensure that she does the same for others.

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Windy has been working as a therapy dog at the Youth Villages/Germaine Lawrence Treatment Center for girls with serious emotional and behavioral issues in Arlington, MA and, more recently, has been involved in the ongoing response of therapy dogs to the Newtown killings and the Boston Marathon bombings. In all settings, I have witnessed the impact that Windy has on those who she encounters. Depending on the circumstances, Windy can easily transition from one extreme to another. Specifically, she may be seen leaning against someone’s leg, writhing around on her back in ecstasy while having her belly rubbed, lying on her side so that she can be petted, or wagging her tail nonstop like a propeller.

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In the words of one student from Newtown, “In a great tragedy you have brought us happiness. If your job is to make us happy, you have exceeded standards.” Another student, whose cousin was killed in the tragedy, sent Windy a letter that read, “We can never thank you enough for being the best therapy dog there is and coming to us every Friday. You light up everybody’s day so much. Thank you for being yourself!” Windy’s playful side was described by another student as, “I loved when you came to Physical Education and ran laps with us. It was so cute. I also liked your soft fur and your ears! You were so gentle and kind to everyone. We love you.”


Windy appears to excel at what she does because she is extremely sensitive and takes in all of the emotion. She wants to help – and, actively seeks out those in need; it is fascinating to observe her in action. With her calm confidence, gentle demeanor, and caring gaze, she quickly turns tears and fears into smiles and laughs. Windy’s unconditional love, which is expressed in a variety of ways – e.g., her affection and attentiveness, inquisitive and mesmerizing eyes, her acrobatic movements – is hard to resist. I have been told by people, both young and old, that Windy’s healing presence gives them strength and, further, that they feel she really cares about them.


Watching Windy “work” is particularly rewarding to me since I have accomplished even more than what I set out to do with my loyal companion and devoted therapy dog.

Windy in BostonGretaRybus_Boston_Windy-9149

Arlington’s Animal Control Bylaws



Arlington’s Animal Control Bylaws now allow morning off leash recreation (generally, 6 to 9 am, with some exceptions) in several Arlington parks.  Specific details on the program may be found at the website of the Recreation Department at this link, where a brochure listing specific parks, off-leash hours and other details may be downloaded.

The bylaw change enabling morning off-leash recreation was sponsored at Town Meeting by A-DOG, with several Town Meeting members who are also A-DOG members advocating successfully for Town Meeting approval.  The new wording appears in red in the bylaws (below).

Arlington’s Animal Control bylaws also allow for fenced “dog recreation areas”, to be established by the Park and Recreation Commission.  This bylaw change (shown in blue) was voted in by Town Meeting (2003/2004) through the efforts of an earlier group of Arlington dog owners, the Friends of Canine Companions of Arlington (FOCCA).  Some of the original FOCCA members joined with other residents to found A-DOG in 2008.

When not in a designated off-leash recreational area at designated times, Arlington bylaws require that dogs be restrained on a leash no greater than 6 ft in length.

Fines for violating the “Leash Laws” in Arlington are among the highest, if not the highest, in Massachusetts, as shown below in green.  This was because of an amendment voted in by Town Meeting, 2011.  An A-DOG member, Wes Beal has sponsored a petition to return these fines to levels more consistent with those in other communities (generally, no greater than $50).




Title VIII – Public Health and Safety 


Section 1. Dogs

No person shall own or keep any dog which by biting, barking, howling, or in any other manner disturbs the peace and quiet of any neighborhood, or endangers the safety of any person.

Section 2. Leashing of Dogs

Leash Required

No person owning or keeping a dog in the Town of Arlington shall permit such dog to be at large in the Town of Arlington elsewhere than on the premises of the owner or keeper, except if it be on the premises of another person with the knowledge and permission of such other person. Such owner or keeper of a dog in the Town of Arlington, which is not on the premises of the owner or upon the premises of another person with the knowledge and permission of such person shall restrain such dog by a chain or leash not exceeding six feet in length. In any prosecution hereunder, the presence of such dog at large upon premises other than the premises of the owner or keeper of such dog shall be prima facie evidence that such knowledge and permission was not had.

ART. 10, ATM 4/28/03

This provision shall not apply, however, in any area designated by the Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners as a “Dog Park,” “Dog Run” or “Dog Exercise Area.” In areas so designated, dogs are not required to be restrained by a leash provided the owner or keeper of such dog is present and attentive to the dog.

B. Enforcement

Any dog found to be at large in violation of this By-Law shall be caught and confined by the dog officer who shall notify forthwith the licensed owner or keeper of said dog giving the owner or keeper a period of ten days within which to recover the dog. Return of the dog to the licensed owner or keeper shall be dependent on admission of ownership or the keeping of the dog and the assumption of responsibility by the licensed  owner or keeper. The dog officer shall enter and prosecute a complaint against the owner or keeper of any dog taken into his custody under this section, as provided for in this By-Law. A dog officer having custody of a dog confined under this By-Law shall be allowed the sum of two dollars per day for each day of confinement for the care of such dog, payable by the owner or keeper thereof.


C.     Fines

(ART. 40, ATM – 05/08/91 (ART. 17, ATM – 04/26/06)(ART. 19, ATM – 04/27/11)

Violations of Sections 2 of this Article shall be punishable as follows:


First offense                                                   By a fine of      $75.00

Second offense                                          By a fine of    $100.00

Third offense                                                   By a fine of    $150.00

Fourth and each subsequent offense      By a fine of    $200.00


The Park and Recreation Commission shall provide for a hearing process to consider community input regarding the creation, placement and use of dog parks, dog runs or dog exercise areas.  The Commission shall adopt rules and regulations concerning these hearings subject to the approval of the Town Manager.


D.      Notwithstanding the foregoing, from park opening time until 9 am, a maximum of two dogs per handler may be off-leash, under effective owner control, in all lands under control of the Parks and Recreation Commission except (ART 36, ATM 2010):

1.      those lands directly contiguous to school properties;

2.      within 15 feet of playground equipment;

3.      by specific exclusion of the Parks and Recreation Commission.


Title IV – Public Areas



Section 8. Animal Control

Art. 9, ATM, 4/28/03 and ART 36, ATM 2010

No person shall cause or permit any animal owned by him or in his custody or under his control, to roam or be at large, in, on or through any park or playground, except in any area designated by the Board of Park and Recreation Commissioners as a “Dog Park”, “Dog Run” or “Dog Exercise Area”, or, except a dog when restrained by a leash not exceeding six (6) feet in length. No animals are allowed on any beach under the care and control of the Park Department. Notwithstanding the foregoing, from park opening time until 9 am, a maximum of two dogs per handler may be off-leash, under effective owner control, in all lands under control of the Parks and Recreation Commission except:

A.      those lands directly contiguous to school properties;

B.      within 15 feet of playground equipment;

C.      by specific exclusion of the Parks and Recreation Commission.

Bylaws reprinted from the Town of Arlington website, here.

FellsDOG Member Comments on off-leash recreation at the Middlesex Fells

Introductory commentary by Susan Doctrow of A-DOG: David Monahan, a member of FellsDOG and a MassDOG colleague, has written a very well-researched, thoughtful letter to the DCR regarding off-leash recreation at the Middlesex Fells that we present here with David’s permission. This includes a rebuttal of erroneously cited research that has been used to exaggerate claims that dogs cause environmental harm. This topic has been debated recently, as the DCR has produced a new Trail Plan to provide for responsible recreational use at this local treasure. Many of us enjoy regularly visiting the Fells with our families, including our family dogs. The DCR has held public meetings, including a very, well-attended workshop that many of us (including Susan Doctrow and Ann Smith of A-DOG) were pleased to participate in.  MassDOG member groups, particularly from Somerville and Melrose have been very active in this effort. Also extremely involved has been Greater Boston New England Mountain Biking Association NEMBA, which works to promote responsible mountain biking in the Fells and sponsors much volunteer effort for trail maintenance and rebuilding. Overall, dog owner groups and NEMBA support responsible recreational use of the Fells, as do many hikers who do not necessarily participate in these two specific activities but believe in mutually beneficial shared enjoyment of public space. Other parties, most notably a group known as Friends of the Fells have representatives advocating restricting recreation uses of the Fells in favor of more passive enjoyment, in the name of strict preservation, instead of for the broader recreational purpose of this public space. The Friends of the Fells leadership, in particular, has reportedly been quite vocal, condemning certain forms of recreational use, particularly mountain biking and off-leash dog recreation, reportedly making exaggerated claims of environmental impact similar to those discussed in David’s letter. In developing its new Trail Plan, the DCR has reached out more broadly to include the recreational interests of stakeholders such as MassDOG member groups and NEMBA. (Yet, on its website, the Friends of the Fells describes this well-balanced effort in inflammatory terms…claiming in a “Fells Alert!” that DCR will turn the Fells into a “Mountain Bike Park”.) In its Trail Plan, DCR has taken an excellent first step toward addressing the needs of dog owners, who, according to the DCR’s own presentation at a public workshop comprise a very large contingent of Fells users (e.g. 39% of respondents to a use survey). This “first step” that the DCR proposes is to make the Sheepfold a legal off-leash recreation space. While we applaud this action, we encourage the DCR to also open certain trails at the Fells to responsible off-leash recreation. This will enable we dog owners to enjoy hiking the Fells with our entire families. After reading David’s letter and studying the current version of DCR’s Trail Plan (the link will appear at the end of David’s letter), make your opinion known.  Though I believe the official comment period on the Trail Plan has ended, establishing recreational use policies for the Fells will be an ongoing effort and it will probably never hurt for you to, if you haven’t already, contact DCR to express your support for off-leash recreation.


Letter by David Monahan of FellsDOG:

November 19, 2010
Department of Conservation and Recreation
c/o Fells Trail Plan
136 Damon Road
Northampton, MA 01060
Re: Middlesex Fells Trail Plan

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am writing to express to the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) my comments to the Middlesex Fells Reservation Draft Trail Plan. In summary, as a dog owner who has visited the Fells regularly with my dog for years, I am glad to see that the DCR has taken the needs of dog owners into account in drafting this plan, and has proposed a trial off-leash dog area or times at Sheepfold. But I must take issue with the fact that no provision has been made for designating trails for use by dog owners, and I also object to misleading and unsupported statements in Appendix E regarding the environmental impact of dogs. I thank the DCR for its thoughtful manner of devising a trail plan which protects this wonderful natural resource, and takes into account the needs of all user groups. It was encouraging to be invited to public meetings to hear and comment on the proposed plan, and the site visits to walk through the Fells with DCR staff were very informative.

I. The Middlesex Fells is part of the Urban Parks District The foundation of all plans for the Middlesex Fells should be recognition that it is an urban park. Under Chapter 92, Section 33 of the Massachusetts General Laws, the Fells is within the “urban parks district”—designated as “open spaces for exercise and recreation.” While some nature groups would apparently like to cordon off the park so that their members can stand on the perimeter and gaze in with binoculars, that is not what the law provides. The good news is that the park is used every day of the year by Massachusetts residents who respect its natural beauty and the living things within it. These include large numbers of dog owners who visit the park with their dogs, and mountain bikers. Both groups are, primarily, responsible park users who respect the rights of other park users and treat our natural resources with great respect.

II. Dog owner use of the Fells
Dog owners use the Sheepfold and the trails throughout the Fells 365 days a year. Considering the large number of visitors to the Sheepfold on a daily basis, the park is remarkably clean and free of debris. Most dog owners are very careful to take out and deposit in the trash bin anything that they bring into the park. I commend the DCR for proposing an off-leash area or off-leash hours at Sheepfold, and I believe this idea is long overdue. I am involved with the Middlesex Fells Dog Owner Group (FellsDOG), and I know that this group and other area dog owner groups are prepared to work with the DCR and other user groups to help develop an appropriate plan for off-leash activity at the Sheepfold. The focus of our groups has always been to educate dog owners on the need to pick up dog waste every single time, and to supervise our dogs to ensure that they are playing safely and not interfering with other park users. We would be glad to serve this role as legal off-leash activity is rolled out at the Fells. I was pleased to see that the Trail System Plan includes engaging in various outdoor activities with the family dog among its “managed experiences” at the Fells. Dog owners also use the trails at the Fells in a responsible fashion. Considering the miles and miles of trails at the Fells, there is no reason why the DCR should not develop a plan to designate one or more trails as permissible for off-leash dog walking.

III. Misleading statements about the environmental impact of dogs
I object to misleading statements in Appendix E under the heading “What are the Impacts of Dogs and Dog Walking?” They give the impression that dogs are more damaging to the environment than the cited studies actually state. The first paragraph of that section gives the impression that dogs are a major cause of fecal coliform bacteria in water supplies. But all available research, including cases cited in this section, show waterfowl, gulls, and pigeons to be a much greater source of fecal coliform in water supplies than dogs, and note that cats, squirrels, raccoons, rats, and other animals all contribute to fecal coliform levels. This section cites a 1996 report issued by Alderisio, Wait, and Sobsey regarding the New York City Water Supply. But that report, based on research at the Kensico Reservoir in Westchester County, noted the need for resources “to investigate and mitigate potential nonhuman sources such as waterfowl and gulls, as well as other wildlife in the Kensico watershed.” It made no mention of dogs. For more on the various sources of non-human fecal coliform bacteria, see Focus: Bacteria in the Issaquah Creek Basin, Washington State Department of Ecology (2004), The second paragraph of that section similarly overstates the impact of dog walking on wildlife. One would think that the litany of scientific studies cited was damning evidence of the negative impact of dogs. But the studies listed simply do not support the hypothesis. For instance, the Nol and Brooks study on Effects of Predator Exclosures on Nesting Success of Killdeer describes the predatory actions of gulls, raccoons, and other mammals—it makes no mention of dogs. The George and Crooks study on Recreation and large mammal activity in an urban nature reserve finds negative “relative activity” impacts upon coyotes, bobcats, and mule deer to be greater from hikers and bikers than from dogs. And the Miller, Knight, Miller report Wildlife responses to pedestrians and dogs showed that the general area of influence on most wildlife was less for a dog walking alone than it was for a person walking alone. We all agree that the impact of dogs on wildlife should be taken into account when formulating a trail plan for the Fells or any other park. But let us not overstate the impact that dogs have as compared to hikers and bikers.

IV. The benefits of activity with dogs
Finally, I note that the plan goes to great lengths to attempt to document the negative impact of dogs, but not to note the benefits. I will refer to one study which says it well:
Benefits of dogs:
• As dogs need daily walking, their owners gain benefits from regular exercise and access to the countryside.

• Dog ownership results in important health, psychological and social benefits for all family members.

• Studies have shown that dog ownership produces beneficial physiological effects in people such as favourable changes in blood lipids, glucose, blood pressure, immune levels and pain relief.

Taylor, K., Anderson, P., Taylor, R., Longden, K. and Fisher, P., 2005. Dogs,
access and nature conservation. English Nature, ENRR No. 649.
The same study goes on, after noting that dogs do have some impact on wildlife, to state:
[S]uch is the benefit that dogs bring and the widespread expectation that dog owners can take their dogs into the countryside, it is impractical to consider banning dogs from all sites of nature conservation value. Evidence suggests that integrated management strategies can be devised (based on control of dogs and influencing their owners) that will reduce the impact of dogs on many nature conservation sites, and seek mutually beneficial solutions.

I would suggest that the DCR should maintain the same balanced approach as it fine tunes and implements a new Middlesex Fells Trail Plan.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to contribute to the planning process.
/s/ David W. Monahan
David W. Monahan

More information:

To see the current Middlesex Fells Trail Plan and related materials: Middlesex Fells Trail Plan link at DCR

To give input to the DCR on off-leash recreation, write to:

Paul Jahnige
Middlesex Fells Trail Plan
136 Damon Rd
Northampton, MA 01060

It is also useful to contact your state Representative (for Arlington, Reps Sean Garballey, Jay Kaufman, Will Brownsberger) and state Senator (for Arlington, Sen. Ken Donnelly) regarding making our state parks, including the Fells, more hospitable to responsible off leash recreation.

Arlington Residents Write to the Arlington Advocate on Off-Leash Recreation

As Town Meeting considers Article 36, to amend the bylaws to allow off-leash recreation under certain conditions, several letters in support of off-leash recreation were published in the April 29 Arlington Advocate. (All letters on this topic from two most recent editions were reprinted in their entirety. This consists of twelve letters supporting off-leash recreation (one for fenced parks), and two opposing letters. To add your opinion, enter Comments below this article.)

From April 29, 2010:

Letters supporting the Substitute Motion under Article 36, to allow early-morning responsible off-leash recreation in Arlington parks:

Letter: Consider off-leash hours
By Ellen Duranceau
GateHouse News Service
Posted Apr 29, 2010 @ 06:30 AM
Arlington, Mass. —

I was disappointed by the Board of Selectmen’s “no action” vote on a warrant article that would allow the Parks & Recreation Commission to designate some early morning hours in some areas for walking dogs off leash. I am writing in the hopes that Town Meeting members will consider the issue independently of the selectmen’s comments.

The board’s stated reservations seem wrong-headed. One is that no further bylaw amendments should be considered until dog owners stop violating the existing leash law. Because the current law doesn’t allow dogs to run anywhere in town, this is an unrealistic expectation, and presents an impossible dilemma for those of us attempting to be responsible citizens and responsible dog owners as well. If the existing law was workable, most people wouldn’t violate it.

The other reservation offered by the board, that we should wait to see what happens with plans for a fenced dog park before making any other changes, also doesn’t make sense. Even if a fenced dog park was created, this would not solve the problem for the many dogs and their owners who won’t live near the park, or whose dogs are too vulnerable or shy to participate in rough-and-tumble play with dogs they don’t know.

Dogs have co-evolved with humans for more than 12,000 years to develop a unique interspecies bond. Dogs provide emotional support and significant service (including acting as police dogs, rescue dogs, seeing eye dogs, seizure detection dogs, and therapy dogs among many other roles) in our society. Yes, it is difficult to accommodate the needs of all the human citizens of Arlington with our limited open space. But it’s time for Arlington to join neighboring towns and allow normal exercise and socialization for dogs and their owners. It’s time to stop telling us dog owners that we are criminals for having the same needs as those in Cambridge, Burlington and many other towns, where those needs are met.

The Board of Selectmen should be calling for change, not for adherence to a set of rules that don’t work. — Ellen Duranceau, Chatham St.

Letter: Socialization is important
By Robin Varghese
GateHouse News Service
Posted Apr 29, 2010 @ 06:30 AM
Arlington, Mass. —

My family and I recently moved to Arlington for the progressive values, good schools and playgrounds for my young children. I have largely stayed out of the local political scene until I heard about the difficulty responsible Arlington dog owners have had obtaining permission to use portions of the public parks to exercise and socialize their dogs with other responsible dog owners.

I have a 6-month-old puppy that does not bark in my yard nor jump on visitors, which is in large part due to socialization I’ve been able to do with other responsible dog owners. It is a shame that Arlington residents have nowhere to legally allow their dogs off leash. Many of the surrounding communities either provide off-leash areas or are off-leash towns.

All dog trainers, books and classes that dog owners look to for advice insist that opportunities to socialize dogs allow them to be trained to be good members of our community. These currently illegal activities make our neighborhoods more peaceful, as a well-exercised dog is a quiet dog. Also, dog owners that may not always pick up after their dogs are reminded of their responsibilities to do so by responsible dog owners when they are together in groups and encouraged to help support off-leash laws.

My children also enjoy playing fetch with our dog and given the small lot size of Arlington homes, it is difficult to do so on our private property. In Arlington, there is no place for us to play fetch, toss a Frisbee or play outside with our family pet.

Surrounding communities provide such opportunities, however, we are prohibited from allowing our dog off leash in the neighboring areas (i.e. Cambridge), as we are not residents. I would like to encourage your readers to write to their Town Meeting representatives and ask for their support during the upcoming Town Meeting and support Article 36. Please help us feel proud to be dog owners in Arlington, a progressive community that respects and hopefully will provide resources for families and “man’s best friend,” the family dog, to play together. — Robin Varghese, Chester St.

Letter: Support Article 36
By Tina Silberman
GateHouse News Service
Posted Apr 29, 2010 @ 06:30 AM
Arlington, Mass. —

As a resident of Arlington and a dog owner, I am writing to express my gratitude to the Parks and Recreation Commission for their support of proposed Article 36 to allow dogs to be off leash at our parks until 9 a.m. I am also writing to encourage Town Meeting members to consider supporting this article as well.

I am incredibly disappointed that after all of the time and effort that has gone into the creation of a suitable compromise plan such as Green Dog, or this new article, that the Board of Selectmen (with the exception of Kevin Greeley), and in particular, Clarissa Rowe, who spent so much time helping to craft the Green Dog Plan, voted No Action on this proposed article.

And, to add insult to injury, the following comment was issued in the report from the BoS to Town Meeting, “[a] majority of the [b]oard also feels the behavior of dog-owners who routinely violate the leash law needs to change before a bylaw amendment should be considered again.”

Who will be monitoring and tracking the behavior of the dog owners in order to decide when exactly a leash law amendment should be considered again? Is the same group going to be monitoring all of the other laws that are broken regarding behavior at our parks? Such as littering, unauthorized cutting of trees and bushes, fires, gatherings after parks are closed?

Things have escalated over the past few weeks and we now have the police issuing warnings and tickets to dog owners who have their dogs off leash at 6:30 a.m. at the parks. While they are indeed breaking the law, I question the harm they are doing, as well as the selective enforcement of only this law. And, I truly hope that a more serious crime is not committed while the police are spending their time enforcing the leash laws.

The time is now to resolve this divisive issue in our town so that the BoS and Town Meeting can turn their attention to the much more pressing issues that are facing our community.

Town Meeting members, please support Article 36, I would hate to think that a vocal minority of residents have a louder voice than the rest of us. — Tina Silberman, Cedar Avenue

Letter: Dogs need more
By Stephen, Margie, Lindsay and Savannah Weil
GateHouse News Service
Posted Apr 29, 2010 @ 06:30 AM
Arlington, Mass. —

I’ve been a resident of Arlington for the past 32 years and a dog owner for most of that time. In my personal experience, I have never had a confrontation with anyone who is afraid of dogs, dislikes them or is concerned about their impact on the environment or the community.

I believe this is the case because my family and I are all responsible dog owners who understand that not all people respond to dogs the way that we do.

Our children grew up with dogs. In fact, our younger daughter picked out our 130 pound large breed dog when she was 5 years old and has been hooked on them ever since. (She is now 21, and we have a new large breed dog as a member of the family.)

We are respectful of our neighbors, we pick up after our dog (no matter how far into the woods she defecates), she is under voice control when not on a leash, and she loves to romp and play with people and at 145 pounds loves dogs of all sizes and ages. (Her best friend is a 15-pound Terrier who comes to our house for “play dates.”)

But she needs more room than our backyard (not to mention an enclosed dog park) can provide to really get the exercise and socialization that she needs and deserves. Just like all of the opponents of off-leash dogs, I am a taxpayer and law-abiding citizen of Arlington. I believe that my dog and me should be afforded the same rights as any other taxpaying, law-abiding citizen. This includes full, complete and equal use of the public facilities that my tax dollars support.

That said, I understand that certain members of our community believe that dog owners are putting an additional tax on our meager town budget. For that reason, I have always and will continue to support a fee-based system for dog owners that will help defray the cost of “rangers” or other expenses incurred. But if I have to pay more, then I expect the respect and support of the town to be able to walk my dog in a fashion that is conducive to both my family’s and her mental, physical and emotional good health. — Stephen, Margie, Lindsay and Savannah Weil, Bailey Road

Letter: Help Arlington move forward
By Susan R. Doctrow
GateHouse News Service
Posted Apr 29, 2010 @ 06:30 AM
Arlington, Mass. —

I urge my fellow Town Meeting (TM) members to support Article 36, allowing limited off-leash recreation for responsible dog owners. I last wrote to the Advocate on this issue in 2007, supporting the Green Dog Plan. In 2008, with others, I founded Arlington Dog Owners Group (A-DOG), whose petition for legal off-leash recreation has been signed by over 900 Arlingtonians.

The Green Dog Plan was narrowly defeated at TM in 2009, with concerns including its complexity. This year, the town established a Dog Park Task Force, to explore possible fenced dog parks, which have been legal here for seven years without positive action. A member of this task force, I feel its goals complement those of Article 36.

As I wrote in 2007, we need “an intelligent alternative to Arlington’s excessively rigid leash bylaw. We dog owners should no longer be made to feel like criminals in our own community, simply for trying to maximize the health, happiness and longevity of our family pets through exercise and socialization. Public parks belong to all of us, and all users should be able to share the benefits of these open spaces in a mutually respectful manner.”

Under Article 36, we propose early morning off-leash recreation under effective owner control, with several excluded sites and, most important, with Parks and Recreation Commission authority to exclude any other sites. While this adds much flexibility, and is consistent with its role in other municipalities, some have voiced concerns that the commission would not allow public input or is otherwise not to be trusted. Our proposal is conservative compared to other bylaws (e.g. Lexington, Bedford, Burlington, Wellesley) allowing dogs off-leash in virtually all parks at all hours.

With one very thoughtful dissenting vote by Selectman Kevin Greeley, the Board of Selectmen voted “no action” on Article 36, reporting to TM that “behavior of dog-owners who routinely violate the leash law needs to change before a bylaw amendment should be considered again.”

With due respect to those four selectmen, this penalizes responsible dog owners for the actions of the irresponsible few. As noted by one supporter, driver’s licenses are not denied to all because some drivers cause accidents. The Parks and Recreation Commission subsequently voted to support our proposal, noting its simplicity and reasonableness. I hope that TM agrees, helping Arlington to finally move forward on this issue. — Susan R. Doctrow, Westminster Avenue

And, in support of the important and complementary work of Arlington’s Dog Park Task Force, to create fenced Off Leash Recreation Areas:

Letter: Essential to dog’s health
By Alice Bouvrie
GateHouse News Service
Posted Apr 29, 2010 @ 06:30 AM
Arlington, Mass. —

It is essential to the health, happiness and well being of all our citizens in Arlington that we have a fenced in dog park where our dogs and owners may socialize and exercise. There are ramps for our handicapped citizens, buzzers at the lights for our sight-impaired citizens, bike paths and lanes for our cyclists, and we should have designated dog parks for our pets and owners.

When as many of our citizens as possible are justly accommodated, we all do better as a community. I hope that we can implement a viable dog park in Arlington soon, and from there we can make adjustments. — Alice Bouvrie, Woodside Lane

AND a new set from the following week, May 6. Six letters from proponents of Article 36 and two from apparent opponents:

Letter: Wonderful compromise
By Amanda Sullivan
GateHouse News Service
Posted May 06, 2010 @ 03:15 PM
Arlington, Mass. —

I am writing to ask the Town Meeting members to support Article 36, which would allow Arlington dogs to be off leash in local parks specified by the Parks and Recreation Commission until the hour of 9 a.m.

My husband and I are Arlington residents who have lived in town for more than six years, and have been dog owners for more than four years. Over the years, we have met many Arlington dog owners and their family pets. I have been very impressed with Arlington residents’ behavior as dog owners — making sure their dog is under voice control and well behaved as well as picking up their dogs waste.

Our dog is friendly, happy and well behaved largely because we make sure she is exercised daily. I find it very frustrating to not be able to play fetch with my dog in a park in my own town, especially when so many neighboring towns, such as Burlington, Lexington and Cambridge, have dog parks or reasonable off-leash laws. Many of these towns only allow their own residents to utilize the dog parks, making it impossible for Arlington residents to legally allow their dogs off leash for socializing and exercise purposes.

I urge Town Meeting members to vote in favor of article 36; it is a wonderful compromise that would Arlington dog owners and our family pets to finally be able to use some of the parks and facilities our tax dollars are paying for in a controlled manner. — Amanda Sullivan, Ronald Rd

Letter: We can coexist
By Jennifer Stone
GateHouse News Service
Posted May 06, 2010 @ 03:14 PM
Arlington, Mass. —

I was thrilled to see the number of letters in favor of Article 36. As a responsible dog owner living and paying taxes in Arlington, I find it amazing that I cannot socialize, and exercise my dog legally in town.

I’ve heard the complaints of the mess it would create, and I ask you, have you seen a soccer field after a Saturday’s worth of youth games? The litter is everywhere, but no one reasonably expects games to be stopped because of the actions of the minority. The responsible dog owners are being penalized for the anticipated behavior of a few.

I lived in San Francisco for two years with my dog, near a small city park that was a major tourist attraction, (the ‘painted ladies’ Victorian homes border the park), and the dogs, residents, and tourists all coexisted. If a city as densely populated as San Francisco can figure out how to allow dogs some freedom, I can’t imagine how Arlington can not. — Jennifer Stone, Ridge Street


Letter: The sky will not fall
By Iain Miller
GateHouse News Service
Posted May 06, 2010 @ 03:04 PM
Arlington, Mass. —

I’d like to urge Town Meeting to accept the very reasonable Article 36 provision for early morning off-leash exercise and socialization rights, at the discretion of the Parks and Recreation Commission.

As one of the sponsors of this article, I’d note the recent unanimous support of the commission. Notably, this article also reflects feedback from the discussion at Town Meeting last year (at which the more complex Green Dog program was narrowly voted down, partly on grounds of complexity), and culminates about eight years of efforts by many responsible dog owners in our town.

While a task force has indeed been established to consider a very limited number of fenced areas, the reality is that such expensive facilities will likely be several years in the making, and not accessible to all. In the interim, I feel that it is long past time for Arlington to join our progressive neighbors such as Somerville and Lexington by taking an interim (no cost) step to de-criminalize a recreational activity that brings many neighbors together. I’ll confidently predict that the sky will not fall and we can all move on. — Iain Miller, Kensington Park

Letter: Say ‘yes’ to Article 36
By Mary McCartney
GateHouse News Service
Posted May 06, 2010 @ 03:01 PM
Arlington, Mass. —

The issue of off-leash dogs has been controversial for Arlington for a number of years, but I believe Article 36, which will be up for vote soon at Town Meeting, is a terrific compromise.

This article will allow dogs to be off-leash, under effective handler control, during early morning hours. It will allow the Parks and Recreation Commission the authority to exclude specific sites. And it specifically excludes school grounds and grounds near playground equipment.

This article is much more conservative than other surrounding communities. The parks are not heavily used during these hours, and I believe this article does a good job of balancing the needs of responsible dog owners with other park users.

The parks are a shared resource. Dog owners are taxpayers too. As a responsible dog owner myself, I value the time I spend with other dog owners, and enjoy that sense of community.

I encourage my fellow Town Meeting members join me in voting in favor of Article 36. — Mary McCartney, Town Meeting Member, Precinct 1, Michael Street

Letter: Give us something to lose
By Jennifer Goebel
GateHouse News Service
Posted May 06, 2010 @ 02:58 PM
Arlington, Mass. —

Give us something to lose

I am writing to express my support for off-leash recreation time for dogs as proposed in Article 36 of this year’s Town Meeting warrant. Right now, there is no way for Arlington dog owners to be responsible dog owners and follow the leash law.

We have learned a lot about canine behavior and health since this restriction was put into place many years ago, and we now know that off-leash time is important for not only the health of the dog, but also its socialization. A tired dog is a good dog. A well-socialized dog is a friendly, well-behaved dog. Common sense says that every one in this town has an interest in Arlington dogs being well-exercised and well-socialized, whether you love them or hate them.

What we have now is all stick and no carrot.

If the town votes against this rule — again — and we continue with the status quo, nothing will improve for anyone. Dog owners will continue to run their dogs off-leash whenever and wherever they think it’s appropriate and convenient because we have nothing to lose. Give us something to lose. — Jennifer Goebel, Sunset Road

Letter: An excellent approach
By Monique Chaplin
GateHouse News Service
Posted May 06, 2010 @ 02:55 PM
Arlington, Mass. —

I am writing to express my appreciation to the Parks and Recreation Commission for supporting Article 36, the “off-leash dog hours” article. I feel that Article 36 is a reasonable, reasoned approach to making our shared parks accessible to all users, in a way that is least disruptive to all.

I am the owner of a young and exuberant dog who has learned through socialization with other dogs, and consistent training, to be a good “citizen” among other dogs, while remaining under good voice control. I believe that Article 36, which leaves decisions about which parks and what hours should be determined “off-leash” is an excellent approach to making our parks accessible to responsible dog owners of Arlington.

I encourage our Town Meeting members to vote in favor of this article. — Monique Chaplin, Michael Street


Letter: Kids before dogs
By Michael Jacoby Brown
GateHouse News Service
Posted May 06, 2010 @ 02:52 PM
Arlington, Mass. —

To call unleashing dogs “green” is a sad misnomer. Allowing dogs to run free in Arlington will do nothing to “green” the town or the planet. When our public schools are facing a financial crisis and we are laying off teachers, spending any money on dogs (building fences for dog parks, etc.) puts dogs ahead of children. Does the town spend money on dogs before children?

If dog owners want “early morning” hours to allow their dogs to run free, “early morning” does not mean up to 9 a.m. From 7 to 9 a.m., many children are going to school or other activities. To put unleashed dogs in the path of children is not the way to go for our children’s safety. — Michael Jacoby Brown, Brattle Terrace

Letter: Need to co-exist respectfully
By Mary Ellen Bilafer
GateHouse News Service

Posted May 06, 2010 @ 02:51 PM
Arlington, Mass. —

I hope to present a unique point of view regarding the current leash law debate and Article 36, which proposes off-leash times in Arlington’s parks.

On Patriots’ Day, I took my leashed dog to Menotomy Rocks Park. As a Town Meeting member and dog owner, I’m aware of the efforts of the A-DOG Committee. I agree that dogs benefit from off-leash areas. I appreciate their efforts and understand the reasoning behind them. However, there are currently no legally established off-leash areas in Arlington. Why then, were almost all of the 15 to 20 dogs I came across off leash?

One can assume this was a fair representation of Arlington dog owners, and not an irresponsible minority as some suggest I have seen the same thing in several other parks around town. I wonder how many “non-dog” citizens avoid the parks for this reason?

When I politely informed a few owners of the leash law, I was consistently met with rudeness and indifference. As a lifelong resident of Arlington, I was disappointed to see such a selfish attitude from my fellow citizens. Not everyone should be subjected to a dog running at him or her in a public area when he or she has an expectation that all dogs will be leashed.

I love my dog but am not so arrogant to assume that everyone will love her as much as I do. There are some people who are very uncomfortable with dogs and it’s also a safety issue — especially when children are involved. No animal is 100% predictable — no matter how confident the owner is to the contrary.

If I choose, however, to go to an off-leash area, I accept these risks and know what to expect … I do not foist those risks onto others who haven’t decided to accept them. Some have suggested that it’s OK to break this law simply because it is unfair. I disagree. When/if off-leash areas are established, then it will be clear who can enjoy the parks freely, and when and where. Designating fenced areas is the safest and most clear-cut option in my opinion and allows for fair park usage for all.

It’s still unclear what will be decided at Town Meeting … but until the situation changes, we need to co-exist respectfully so that everyone can comfortably enjoy the parks. It’s simply unfair otherwise. — Mary Ellen Bilafer, Cutter Hill Road
And, from May 13, two more in favor, none opposed:

Letter: Should not be limited
By Catherine Solovay
GateHouse News Service
Posted May 13, 2010 @ 05:53 PM
Arlington, Mass. —

I would like to express my support for Article 36 permitting limited places and times for off-leash exercise of dogs by responsible owners. Dog ownership is a responsibility, but one that can bring great joy to a family. It is also our responsibility to give our dogs appropriate exercise, and at the moment, I need to drive to another town daily in order to properly give my dog a run. I do not think that the pleasures and health benefits of dog ownership should be limited to families with cars, or wealth enough for an abundant fenced yard. I urge a vote in favor of Article 36. — Catherine Solovay, Kenilworth Rd.


Letter: Building a community
By Lana Petersson
GateHouse News Service
Posted May 13, 2010 @ 05:52 PM
Arlington, Mass. —

This morning, while our dogs were playing, I had a great conversation with a fellow dog owner that made me realize why I support the limited off-leash laws. We didn’t talk about anything in particular, it was just nice to have company and meet someone new from the neighborhood. It put me in a good mood all day.

I left realizing why I care so much about the leash law: it creates congregation spots that create a great community, the same way a jungle gym does. I know people from all over East Arlington, and not just dog-owners, because my dog introduces us when we might not have otherwise approached each other. When we were looking to buy our first house, it was this feeling of community that kept us in the same neighborhood (literally, three streets down) as opposed to the more dog-friendly Cambridge. Some of this happens on leash, but if we’re out, it’s usually to get some exercise and we’re on the move.

I can be shy but love making connections, this is the reason why I love having a dog so much, and why I’m in big favor of a limited off-leash law that lets us all socialize together. I am especially in favor of limited times and places. The wonderful thing about community space like fields is bringing people together, in all different ways, at different times of day, and learning how to all share a space to build a healthy community for everyone involved. — Lana Petersson, Milton Street

Prison Pups Screening, Oct 21 in Belmont: Fundraiser for Hearing Impaired Cambridge Teacher

Many of you may recall that A-DOG sponsored a very successful screening of Prison Pups in April, 2008. Here’s another chance to see it and to support an excellent cause. And, please be so kind as to forward this information to everyone you think might be interested!

On Wednesday, October 21, 2009, at 7 p.m. at the Belmont Studio Cinema, 376 Trapelo Road, Belmont, the Friends of Betty and Dexter will show the award-winning documentary, Prison Pups, to help raise funds so that Elizabeth Smith MacKenzie of Watertown may obtain a new hearing assistance dog.

MacKenzie, a special needs teacher with the Cambridge public schools, will get her hearing assistance dog from NEADS (the National Education for Assistance Dog Services) Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans, the same organization that matched her with Dexter, her current hearing assistance dog. Dexter, who is ill, is over 12 years old and will retire soon.

MacKenzie explained that, “My dog works primarily for me, but also accompanies me to the classroom and sits for reading time, helps with counting and often comforts an upset child as needed. He has been an invaluable asset to the school room.”

NEADS, a Massachusetts non-profit, in 1976, pioneered the training of dogs to help people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, in the same manner as guide dogs assist the blind and people with limited vision. NEADS has now expanded its services to provide training for people with other disabilities also.

In 1998, NEADS began the Prison PUP Partnership in which inmates foster and train service dog puppies for the first year of the dogs’ training. The film, Prison Pups, tells the story of four inmates as they raise and train service dogs for the handicapped and hearing impaired at Concord Farm, Massachusetts, a minimum-security facility.

“Dexter, and before him, Chico,” MacKenzie said, “have been my ears for 25 years. They allow me to function independently at home, in the community and at work. They tell me the smoke alarm, teakettle, door knock, phone, etc. They do the same sounds at work, plus a different fire alarm. On the street they tell me if sirens are coming, and alert me to other environmental sounds that are above or below the sounds that my hearing aides can compensate for.”

She added: “My service dog allows independence in a way that gives me, a disabled person, control over my safety. Service dogs are more focused and reliable than any human companion. They are always available and willing to accompany me anywhere at any time.”

A donation of $25.00 for adults and $5.00 for students is requested for the screening. More information about NEADS may be viewed at http://www.neads. org/index. php.

Contributions for Betty may be made directly by going to:
http://www.neads. org/about_ us/client_ view.php? id=189

“The Buzz Around Town”: Arlington Speaks About Off-Leash Dogs

We thought it would be interesting to print a selection of publicly available commentary by residents of Arlington concerning the recent discussion of the Green Dog plan. What follows are unedited letters to the editor that originally appeared in the Arlington Advocate, as well as online responses from readers writing in on the newspaper’s blog. Others, feel free to post your own comments on our blog, as well as to paste in other publicly available commentary that you find. In the interest of fairness and accuracy, please do not edit others’ publicly printed comments but, instead, paste them (or entire pertinent excerpts) in their entirety.

Letter: Off-leash law short-sighted
By Vera J. Bernacchi
Thu Mar 12, 2009, 06:30 AM EDT

Arlington, Mass. – There has been an increase in the number of off-leash dogs I have seen in the last few years. It is possible that all the talk about dog parks and free-range dogs has given encouragement to dog owners to set their dogs free all over Arlington. It is illegal. It is dangerous. And it is an abomination.

During a recent warm spell, as I was walking along Massachusetts Avenue in early evening, I saw more dogs that were off-leash than on. One young mother was petrified because a huge boxer raced across the avenue and stuck his head in her baby carriage. When I chastised the dog’s owner, he swore at me.

I have overheard some of these bold dog owners say that they are happy when the dog officer goes off duty for the day, so they can set their dogs free. Shockingly, many of these people evidently purchased their dogs knowing they did not have the proper facilities for them. Now they erroneously believe the people of Arlington are going to make up for their short-sightedness by providing space for their dogs to run and play and socialize.

I was bitten by a dog twice in my life. As a little girl just walking along my street en route to visit an ill neighbor, I was bitten by a dog — possibly because I showed fear as he raced toward me. Arlington did not have a leash law then. Thirty-five years later, I was bitten by another dog in Florida — possibly because I was carrying a puppy. Dog bites are shockingly painful and they are frightening because, while you are in excruciating pain, you immediately have to investigate the dog’s record of shots and past behavior.

I have spoken with many people in Arlington about the situation of all the off-leash dogs and they are livid about it. Please call the selectmen and your representatives on Town Meeting to share your opinions on this important subject. A couple of selectmen are running for re-election unopposed. However, you can express your opinion on this subject loudly and clearly by withholding your votes from them, if you feel they are about to work to take away your freedom of walking through Arlington without fear.
Vera J. Bernacchi

Massachusetts Avenue

Arlington Advocate Online comment by: gdcook1969
We are having a very valid debate in this town about how to accomodate dog owners – and accomodate then somehow we must. I find in sad that in this situation, where we need to cut a deal that will satisfy no-one, but find the best accomodation for all. The true extremists are those who would use words like ‘abomination’ to describe a dog off of a leash. I’ll remember to use it to describe the poor-of-sight drivers who tend to float down the middle of Mass Ave, taking up two lanes – perhaps we can ban them too..

In this issue, there are two levers we have – where and when. Where can a dog owner run their dogs, and at what times of day. There is an enormous set of options – 1 park, all parks, 1-2 hours a day, morning, evening, after dusk -and dog owners just seem to want something. The opponents here are the ones saying grant them nothing – not 1 minute of a day without a leash. No one here is proposing letting wolves run free in Arlington Center, foaming at the mouth, waiting to maul Vera as she walks out of the local coffee shop. Release in a controlled area, during a controlled time, with penalities justified for those that flout a more permissive law, is a reasonable outcome.

I sympathize with dog owners letting their dogs run off leash in quiet times (hint: wait till Vera is in bed, I suspect). A well regulated program may save Vera some of her concern (well, perhaps not.., but one can hope) – a dog would have to have up to date shots, its past behavior would be documented, identifying if the privilege should be taken away from that owner, etc. And while dog bites can be excruciatingly painful, most aren’t – I suspect Vera is a guilty of a bit of theatrics here.. and there are a lot of things in Arlington that can ‘bite’ more severely – auto collisions, food poisioning, crime, kids making wide u-turns on the Minuteman cutting in front of cyclists… but in the end, I suspect Vera’s freedom to ‘walk through Arlington without fear’ is a canard – fear to her is a cudgel used to enforce the opinion of a zealot..

Letter: Discontinue the hyperbole
By Iain Miller
Thu Mar 19, 2009, 06:30 AM EDT

Arlington, Mass. – I have read with interest a recent letter (March 12) in opposition to the town’s Green Dog proposals and find myself, once again, saddened by the tone and hyperbole employed. The letter in question alleges that the “people of Arlington” are not obligated to provide parks for people exercising their dogs off-leash. Of course, they do not — the writer should remember that our parks are multi-use and that their maintenance is provided by all taxpayers, including the thousands of responsible dog-owners of Arlington, who are of course also “people of Arlington.” No individual lobby group should be in a position to exercise a veto over legitimate use.

The letter also implies that off-leash dogs are more likely to bite. This is contrary to the published literature in this field, which documents that leashed dogs are twice as likely to bite, due to the higher stress levels and defensive reactions.

So, lets stick to the facts, discontinue the hyperbole, and be reasonable about all this. There is no “abomination” here (as the writer alleges) — only reasonable people trying to find a middle ground. Dog owners need a way to exercise and socialize their animal friends. This is a both an animal rights and a basic civil tolerance issue, which should not excessively vex a progressive town such as Arlington. Lets keep the debate civil and reasonable and find a middle ground, whether it is fenced dog parks or the hybrid Green Dog proposal currently on the table.
Iain Miller
Kensington Park

Letter: Before voting, answer this
By Bob Radochia
Thu Mar 19, 2009, 06:30 AM EDT

Arlington, Mass. – After reviewing the Green Dog Pilot Project Proposal presented at the Feb. 23, 2009 selectmen’s meeting several times, I have come to the conclusion that the most manageable solution is to have four to six fenced in areas about the town. To allow unleashed dogs in unfenced areas where non-dog adults, children and dogs on leash may be present is unacceptable.

Thirteen locations seem excessive in comparison to the number of other recreational sites throughout the town. For example, we have:

· One swimming location

· One skating rink

· One outdoor skating location

· Three tennis locations

· Five baseball locations

· Twelve Little League/softball locations

· Twelve soccer locations

· Fifteen basketball locations

Before I could reconsider my position, I would need more clarification or answers to the following:

1. One of the intentions of this program to create many neighborhood sites and avoid having destination sites has not been met in my opinion. There are only two off-leash locations, Reeds Brook and Turkey Hill that are located east of Route 2A (Mass. Ave. and Summer St.). Dog owners in the Bishop and Thompson neighborhoods will most likely have to drive to an off-leash location. Selectman Kevin Greeley is farther away from an off-leash site than many residents of Belmont, Cambridge and Lexington.

2. Will the permit be issued to the dog owner or the dog?

3. Can the dog be accompanied to the off-leash site by another member of the family, a neighbor, or paid dog walker as long as the lanyard is displayed?

4. How many rangers would be required per off-leash shift?

5. Where did the number 1,800 dogs come from? The annual reports for the last three years list 1,031, 1,067 and 1,254 licensed dogs and this year there are 1,100 licensed dogs. If 600 dog owners purchased a permit, the proposed $40 fee is too low to meet the goal of $40,000. The $40 fee is not exorbitant compared to the fees in the hundreds of dollars parents must pay for extracurricular and out of school sports activities.

6. How will the unfenced areas be staked out or will the entire field be available for off-leash activities?

I urge you to not support this warrant article until a more manageable and acceptable solution can be presented.
Bob Radochia
Columbia Road

Letter: Dog parks deserve a trial run
By Dick Smith
Thu Mar 19, 2009, 06:30 AM EDT
Arlington, Mass. – In 2003, Arlington’s Town Meeting voted to add a provision for fenced dog areas to the Town bylaws. The Park and Recreation Commission began discussing a proposal to take advantage of this fenced dog area provision, but because of pressure from neighbors who didn’t want this kind of area in their neighborhood, and because having only limited fenced in-area available would mean that dog owners throughout the town would all use that limited area, the idea was not followed through. This eventually led to the creation of the Town’s official Green Dog Committee

Before the Green Dog Committee came into being, FOCCA (Friends of Canine Companions of Arlington) and, more recently, A-DOG (Arlington Dog Owners Group), which now has about 350 members, were formed to promote responsible dog ownership. Now the Green Dog Committee, after studying the problem and holding hearings for two years, have made a recommendation for a one-year trial period, providing for small areas in 13 parks — including two fenced areas — throughout the town, to be used during limited hours, and by payment of $40 for a permit, for off-leash dog activity.

Those who have been following the discussion on the Arlington List realize that this is a sensitive issue with many strong feelings on all sides. But I think that there is virtually unanimous agreement that something must be done. To do nothing means that the present unhappy and unsatisfactory situation, for responsible dog owners and non-dog owners alike, will continue, and that the Green Dog Committee — if it doesn’t simply throw up its hands in frustration — must go back to the drawing board.

The Green Dog Committee’s proposal is a step in the right direction, and, as a Town Meeting Member, I expect to vote in favor of it.

Let’s wait and see how this pilot program works out. It isn’t perfect; I believe that there should be many more fenced areas. There will still be complaints from all sides, but if responsible dog owners cooperate, and if presently less-than-responsible dog owners are pressured to become responsible, hopefully we will find that the plan is in fact improving the situation. There are provisions for making changes during the trial period.
Dick Smith
Washington St.


Letter: Nothing Green About Off-Leash Dogs

Arlington, Mass. – If proponents of letting dogs run unleashed in Arlington want to change the law to allow this, they should call it what it is: A proposal to let dogs go unleashed. There is nothing “green” about unleashed dogs or dog parks. Proponents of unleashed dogs and this paper should stop this charade. The plastic used to scoop up the feces come from petroleum. Driving the dogs to the new unleashed parks will cause more carbon emissions. If this encourages more dog ownership, it will mean more dog food and there is nothing “green” about that. If new fences are made, a bigger “carbon footprint.” All the paper and ink on this subject, new signage for this proposal — nothing “green” about that.

Many in Arlington might approve of going “green” by lowering their use of resources and carbon emissions, but allowing dogs to run off leash does nothing to achieve this. So, please, if you want to run your dogs without leashes, just say that. Don’t try to fool me that this will help save the planet.

Michael Jacoby Brown
Brattle Terrace

Letter: Please vote no on letting Arlington go to the dogs

by Robert M. Kuhn and Darcy C. Devney

Thu May 14, 2009, 06:30 AM EDT.

Arlington, Mass. – Warrant Article 18 is not about neighborhood fenced dog parks for Arlington dog owners. This is strictly a proposal to license 1,000 dogs or more to run off-leash for hours every day in more than a dozen parks in Arlington.

Residents Opposed. Dogs (clean up/disturb others) was the third highest concern regarding the town’s recreational and open spaces in the Vision 2020 survey. When a dog park was proposed at Hill’s Hill, more than 500 neighbors signed a petition to protest.

Imaginary Boundaries. Proponents didn’t want to locate an unfenced Park Tower dog area next to Park Ave. because of the safety of their dogs. Any assurances that dogs will not violate the nonexistent barriers are false, so the entirety of 13 parks will end up being off-leash.

Unequal Sharing of Resources. For the benefit of less than 1,000 dog owners, more than a dozen parks are being taken over for several hours each day. People who want to avoid dogs (including dog owners whose leashed dogs have been harassed by other dogs) will be unable to use the 13 parks during off-leash hours. Also, there are no planned off-leash areas for almost half of Arlington’s land area.

Overrun by Non-resident Dogs. By law, non-residents must be permitted equal access to Arlington parks. About half the dog-walking users in Brookline are from out-of-town (in 2007, about half the fined violations were by non-residents). Cambridge has also had ongoing problems with non-residents. Arlington parks are already too highly recommended in “The Dog Lover’s Companion to Boston.” If this proposal is accepted, Arlington would have the most indulgent dog laws in the Metro Boston area. Arlington parks would be a magnet for dog owners and professional dog walkers.

Already not Working. As proponents admit, dogs are already running off-leash in Arlington parks. Already, some people have abandoned their local parks because of free-ranging dogs. Already, dog waste is not being picked up. Already, an estimated 700 dogs (out of 1,800) are not licensed. How would rewarding current illegal behaviors with less regulation result in improved behavior?

Worst Decision Ever Made. As the Brookline administrators admitted to the Arlington Selectmen, their definition of success is “nothing got worse” and there is “less illegal activity” because “it’s legal now.” A Brookline police officer told Arlington police that the program was “the worst decision we ever made.” Somerville officials also said, “opening parks for dogs off-leash was one of the worst decisions the city made,” according to Selectman Diane Mahon.

We like dogs, and believe that a few self-supporting, fenced dog parks (with posted capacity limits) could be a worthwhile amenity for dog owners in Arlington and the surrounding communities. But we don’t believe in unfunded fantasy fences. So we recommend that you call or e-mail your Town Meeting members about voting No on Warrant Article 18 (unfenced off-leash areas).

Robert M. Kuhn and Darcy C. Devney
Thorndike St.
The text of the above Advocate letter was incorporated into the following statement sent to Town Meeting Members prior to the vote on the Green Dog Plan:
Please vote NO on letting Arlington go to the dogs.
To: Town Meeting Members
Re: Warrant Article 18 (Bylaw Amendment / Animal Control)
Warrant Article 18 is not about neighborhood fenced dog parks for Arlington dog owners.
Dogs are already welcome on-leash throughout Arlington 24/7. This is strictly a proposal to
license 1,000 dogs or more to run off-leash for hours every day in more than a dozen parks in
Arlington. Please vote No on Article 18. Here’s why:
Residents Opposed or Unaware. Dogs (clean up/disturb others) was the third highest concern
regarding the town’s recreational and open spaces in the Vision 2020 survey.1 When a dog park
was proposed at Hill’s Hill, more than 500 neighbors signed a petition to protest.2 There have
been some neighborhood meetings, but the majority of Arlington citizens have no idea that their
personal use of local parks would be forever changed, and not for the better.
Imaginary Boundaries. The entirety of each of 13 parks will end up being off-leash, since
there is no way that the invisible limits would work. Proponents didn’t want to locate an
unfenced Park Tower dog area next to Park Ave, because of the safety of their dogs.3 Any
assurances that dogs will not violate the nonexistent barriers are false.
Unequal Sharing of Resources. For the benefit of less than 1,000 dog owners, more than a
dozen parks are being taken over for several hours each day. People who want to avoid dogs
(including dog owners whose leashed dogs have been harassed by other dogs) will be unable to
use the 13 parks during off-leash hours. Also, there are no planned off-leash areas whatsoever
in the area north of Massachusetts Ave in East Arlington or north of Summer Street/Washington
St. in the rest of Arlington – i.e., almost half of Arlington’s land area.4 So the stated goal of
neighborhood dog parks spreading the burden is obviously unmet.
Overrun by Non-resident Dogs. By law, non-residents must be permitted equal access to
Arlington parks.5 According to the administrators of the Brookline program, about half their
dog-walking users are from out-of-town6 (and in 2007, about half the fined violations were by
non-residents7). Cambridge has had ongoing problems because their off-leash areas are so
attractive to non-residents. Arlington parks are already too highly recommended in The Dog
Lover’s Companion to Boston.8 If this proposal is accepted, Arlington would have the most
indulgent dog laws in the Metro Boston area, and Arlington parks would be a magnet for dog
owners and professional dog walkers.
Already not Working. As proponents admit, dogs are already running off-leash in Arlington
parks. Already, some people have abandoned their local parks because of free-ranging dogs.
Already, dog waste is not being picked up. Already, an estimated 700 dogs (out of 1,800) are
not licensed.9 How would rewarding current illegal behaviors with less regulation result in
improved behavior? If the promised “peer pressure” by other dog owners doesn’t work now,
why would it magically work in the future? Enforcement of the current leash laws, Warrant
Article 21 (Gated Dog Parks), and Warrant Article 23 (Increase Dog Licensing Fees), are
efforts to mitigate the current situation. Legalizing more dogs off-leash (whether or not
enforcement is increased) would create more problems than it solves.
Worst Decision Ever Made. The results of these programs in other towns are clear. As the
Brookline administrators admitted to the Arlington Selectmen, their definition of success is
“nothing got worse” and that there is “less illegal activity” because “it’s legal now.”10 A
Brookline police officer told Arlington police that the program was “the worst decision we ever
made.”11 Somerville officials also said, “opening parks for dogs off-leash was one of the worst
decisions the city made,” according to Selectman Diane Mahon.12
We like dogs, and believe that a few self-supporting, fenced dog parks (with posted capacity
limits) could be a worthwhile amenity for dog owners in Arlington and the surrounding
communities. But we don’t believe in unfunded fantasy fences. So please vote NO on Warrant
Article 18 (unfenced off-leash areas).
Sincerely yours,
Alan Frank, Pct 1
James B. Crouch, Pct 2
Alia-Anor Akaeze, Pct 3
Mary Beth Wilkes, Pct 3
Julie Chamberlin, Pct 4
Darcy C. Devney, Pct 4
Robert M. Kuhn, Pct 4
George Laite, Pct 4
Aram Hollman, Pct 6
Aileen Gildea-Pyne, Pct 8
Andrea Hodgson, Pct 8
Anne Murray, Pct 8
Catherine Bieber, Pct 9
Meghan Elledge, Pct 9
Nanci Ortwein, Pct 9
Katharine Daley Fennelly, Pct
Paul F. Fennelly, Pct 10
Anne D. Kenney, Pct 10
Mustafa Varoglu, TMM Pct
Matthew Hanley, Pct 11
Jerri Newman, Pct 11
Richard Newman, Pct 11
Charles Bryant, Pct 12
Janet Bryant, Pct 12
Heather Bryant Mckenney,
Pct 12
David J. Lewis, Pct 14
Craig Burgess, Pct 16
Suzanne Burgess, Pct 16
John Belskis, TMM Pct 18
Jeanne Leary, Pct 19
Bernadette McGonagle, Pct
Ed McGonagle, Pct 19
Barbara Jones, Pct 20
Cathy Joyce, Pct 21
1 2007, 17% of Arlington households.
2 Presentation at Selectmen’s Meeting, 10/17/2005.
3 Green Dog Meeting, 01/22/2009.
4 Arlington Green Dog Proposed Locations Map, revised 3/30/2009.
5 Selectmen’s Meeting, 3/30/2009.
6 Presentation at Selectmen’s Meeting, 3/23/2009.
7 Brookline Tab, 05/28/2008.
8 Dog Lover’s Companion to Boston, 4th Edition, 2006.
9 Arlington Green Dog Proposal & Stephanie Lucarelli (Town Hall)
10 Presentation at Selectmen’s Meeting, 3/23/2009.
11 Arlington Chief of Police F. Ryan, memo 3/4/2009.
12 Arlington Advocate, 07/26/2007
The following Letter was sent to Town Meeting in Response:

In Response to “Please Vote NO on Letting Arlington Go To The Dogs”:

The report with this title, signed by 34 Arlington residents, was distributed to Town Meeting members by email on May 12, 2009.   Among the reasons listed for opposing Article 18, the Green Dog plan, this document alleges “clear” negative results with off-leash dog recreation in two other communities.

The paragraph in question reads:

Worst Decision Ever Made.  The results of these programs in other towns are clear.  As the Brookline administrators admitted to the Arlington Selectmen, their definition of success is “nothing got worse” and that there is “less illegal activity” because “it’s legal now”.  A Brookline police officer told Arlington police that the program was “the worst decision we ever made”.  Somerville officials also said, “opening parks for dogs off-leash was one of the worst decisions the city made”, according to Selectman Diane Mahon.”


It seems unlikely that the Brookline Green Dog program is widely regarded as being the “worst decision ever made”, given that it was made permanent by Town Meeting after its pilot period of testing and adjustment.  Of course, individual town employees such as this officer are entitled to opinions that differ from those of Parks and Recreation administrators, as well as from the positive views of the two Parks Commissioners who appeared before our Board of Selectmen last March.  I have personally discussed the Green Dog plan with Brookline’s former Director of Recreation and the present Parks and Open Space Director.  Both were quite clear with me that they regard the Green Dog program as being beneficial to the community.  In fact, Robert Lynch, the former Director of Recreation and the first official to administer the Brookline Green Dog plan, told me on the phone that he had predicted the Green Dog plan would never work.  Yet, he said, it succeeded beyond his imagination, with a very low number of complaints that he felt were readily addressed.  He credited this success in part to the highly effective “self-policing” and monitoring by responsible dog owners who volunteered to serve as his unofficial park liaisons.

To address the alleged failure of the Somerville program, I attach a copy of page 71 from the City of Somerville Open Space and Recreation Plan 2008-2013 (Draft, with final version due sometime this spring).  As shown in the Credits and Acknowledgements, also attached, the Mayor and many town employees and committee members, including those representing Planning, Recreation, Public Works, and Conservation, contributed to this document.  In it, Off-Leash Recreation in Somerville, which began in 2006, is touted as a “Success Story”, with third and fourth off leash recreation areas now being planned for that city. If, indeed, allowing off leash dog recreation was “one of the worst decisions the city made”, then it seems as though Somerville has been making some very good decisions!

Another concern cited in this Article 18 opponents’ report is that “If this proposal is accepted, Arlington would have the most indulgent dog laws in the Metro Boston area, and Arlington parks would be a magnet for dog owners and professional dog walkers.”  However, much more indulgent bylaws exist in several other towns, including one right next door:

Section 2 of Article XXVII of the town’s General By-Laws requires that a person who owns a dog shall keep that animal under restraint at all times.
“No dog owned or kept in this Town shall be allowed to be off the premises of its owner or keeper except in the immediate restraint and control of some person by means of a leash or effective command. The owner or keeper of any such dog that is not restrained or controlled off the premises of its owner or keeper shall be punishable by a fine of up to fifty dollars or the maximum permitted by Section 173A of Chapter 140 of the Massachusetts General Laws, whichever is higher.”

Article 42.5.1 Dogs Running at Large (Leash Law Provisions).
“No owner or keeper of any dog shall permit their dog to run at large at anytime. An owner or keeper of a dog must accompany and restrain the dog on a leash or accompany with leash in hand and maintain effective voice control of the dog while off their own property. An obedient dog which is under the effective control of its owner may be permitted to be unleashed in Town-owned open spaces within the Town. Dogs must be on a leash on bike paths and at public events. No dogs are allowed in cemeteries. The provision of this paragraph shall not apply to a guide dog or service dog while actually engaged in the performance of its trained duties.”

To date, over 671 Arlington residents, dog owners as well as non dog owners, have signed the Arlington Dog Owners Group (A-DOG) petition requesting off-leash recreation opportunities for responsible dog owners in our town.  (As of today that number is 676).  On behalf of such constituents, and in the spirit of respectfully sharing our community open space, I urge my TM colleagues to support the Selectmen’s recommended vote under Article 18, the Green Dog plan, as distributed to TM on May 11.


Susan Doctrow (Precinct 21)


Dog Behavior Workshop

Sponsored by MayDOG, the Maynard Dog Owners Group

Have you ever wondered…

* How can I keep my dog safe when he/she plays with other dogs?
* What does normal dog play behavior look and sound like?
* What are the warning signs that two dogs might be about to fight?
* How do I deal with bullying behavior?
* How do I deal with resource guarding?
* How long should I stay at an off-leash area?
* What can I do BEFORE we meet other dogs to prepare my dog for a fun, safe play session?
* How can I teach my dog to be polite when greeting other dogs and people on-leash?
* What are ways we can build our training relationship?

Come learn the answers to these and many other questions at a dog behavior workshop sponsored by the Maynard Dog Owners Group (MayDOG) on Sunday, May 3, 1:30-3pm. The workshop will be facilitated by Gerilyn Bielakiewicz, CPDT, of Canine University. It will be held at the DOGS! Learning Center, Hudson, MA. The $60 workshop fee admits up to 2 people. A $10 discount is available if you sign up for our mailing list, and if you join MayDOG, the workshop is just $35. Pre-registration is required; register at our website or by calling 978-293-3371.

This workshop is a fundraiser for the Maynard Dog Owners Group (MayDOG), a 501c3 nonprofit community group in Maynard, MA. All proceeds will go toward our mission of promoting responsible dog ownership and building community through safe, legal off-leash recreation in the Maynard area.

Update on the Green Dog Program

The Green Dog program is being planned by a town committee including Leslie Mayer (Chairman of Parks and Recreation), Clarissa Rowe (Chairman, Board of Selectmen), and Joe Connelly (Director of Recreation). The Conservation Commission, Public Health, and Animal Control have also been involved in the program. This group is developing a pilot plan to allow dogs off leash, under certain conditions, in certain Arlington parks. When a plan is ready, it will be submitted to Town Meeting for a vote on whether to enact this change to the current leash law. (The current leash law does not allow dogs to roam “at large”, and specifies a 6 foot leash. As it is currently enforced by Animal Control, even owner-supervised dogs, or dogs receiving “recall” training with a longer leash, are in violation and their owners are subject to ticketing.) Last year, several Green Dog public meetings were held to introduce residents to the Green Dog concept and to allow them to provide input on a draft plan. Opponents of dogs off leash, as well as proponents, attended these meetings and/or submitted suggestions to members of the committee. Members of the Green Dog Committee decided, as a result of all the concerns they’d received, that last spring’s Town Meeting was too soon to propose a change to the leash laws. Some changes were made to the plan and another series of meetings were held. With input from these meetings, it is it is now anticipated that a plan will be submitted to Town Meeting for a vote in spring, 2009. This plan could be further discussed and amended during Town Meeting, so there is still time to provide input to the Green Dog Committee as well as to your Town Meeting Members (see below).

Leslie Mayer provided the following update for this article: “Since Town Meeting 2008, we have continued to explore issues raised at last year’s neighborhood Green Dog Meetings, including enforcement, costs, hours, locations, and fenced area details. The next group of neighborhood meetings have been scheduled for Nov. 6, 13, 20 and Dec. 4 (if needed) at 7pm in the Senior Center. These meetings are intended to bring the neighborhoods in to discuss the limits and parameters of specific locations and to refine hours to better suit the needs of each site.”

These meetings, now completed, each focused on a specific area. (There was also a follow up public working meeting on January 22.)
November 6th: Mt. Gilboa, McClennen, Turkey Hill,Hills’ Hill, Hurd, and Res
November 13th: Spy Pond/ Hornblower, Spy Pond Park, Magnolia, Waldo and Thorndike
November 20th: Menotomy, Robbins, Water Tower, Ottoson Woods and Poet’s Corner
December 4: Revisiting areas named above, in particular, as requested by opponents of dogs off leash in the Summer St. area.

A-DOG members were urged to attend these public meetings and to provide input to Leslie and her colleagues. Many of you did, but so did many opponents. It is still important for A-DOG members to contact the Green Dog committee, preferably by email, to ask questions about the plan and to inform them of your opinions and needs regarding legal off leash hours and sites in Arlington’s parks, especially in your neighborhood parks. This will help to ensure that the final Green Dog program will provide responsible dog owners with off-leash exercise and socialization options that will best serve our needs. Send your questions and comments on the Green Dog plan to Leslie Mayer (, Clarissa Rowe (, and Joe Connolly (

Now that a vote on the Green Dog plan is likely this spring, A-DOG members are urged to contact their Town Meeting Members, including candidates for election on April 4. Discuss with them how you’d like them vote on this issue during Town Meeting. If your precinct has an open position, consider running as a write-in candidate in the town elections yourself! Feel free to contact us at for any questions about Town Meeting, or other aspects of the process.

More information on the Green Dog program, and on an October 6 meeting of the Board of Selectmen discussing dogs off leash, can be found at these links:


Arlington Advocate

A report on the November 6 meeting appeared in the Arlington Advocate . Comments only from opponents were quoted by the reporter, though those of us who attended observed that it was a more balanced meeting and that many excellent statements were made in support of allowing dogs off leash in our parks.

Education promotes safety in children’s interactions with dogs: a pediatric emergency physician’s perspective

by Donna K. Wren, M.D., FAAP
Arlington Town Meeting Member (Pct 10)

During the debate at Town Meeting over Article 28, which addressed off-leash times at parks in Arlington, many issues were discussed. However, one of the issues which did not get discussed at length was safety. Many people stated emphatically that they didn’t want dogs off leash because it would be a safety hazard to other park users. But no one mentioned appropriate ways to make everyone safer. As a pediatric emergency medicine physician, I have seen my share of children with animal bites, mostly from dogs. In the 12 1/2 years of my experience I do not recall ever treating a child who had sustained a bite from a dog while out in a park or other outdoor recreational setting. My experience has been that children are primarily bitten by their own dog and usually there is some provocation: touching the dog’s food, teasing the dog, or otherwise startling the dog.

I decided to see if medical research supported my observations so I reviewed as many studies as I could find evaluating dog bites with regard to statistics of location, familiarity with the dog, and prevention. By and large, my observations were supported by the literature. Children make up 60% of all dog bite victims. The peak age to be bitten is between 5 and 9 years of age and boys are more likely than girls to be bitten. In every article, it was found that most bites occur on the dog’s property ranging from 58% to 70% of all bites. Between 77% to 91% of all bite victims (of all ages) knew the dog; most often it was the victim’s dog.

The most striking finding in all these studies was that dog safety education was instrumental in reducing the risk of bites. Education was the single most effective way to prevent injury. The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly supports educational programs teaching dog safety to children in the schools, in the community, in the doctor’s office, and in the home. Teaching children makes sense as they are statistically most likely to be bitten, but teaching adults, parents, dog owners, and the entire community is best. Even a single short session has been shown to improve safety and decrease risk.

I applaud the efforts of the Green Dog Committee to find a solution to the needs of everyone in the community regarding dogs. It must be stressed that any community program requires education of all members of the community. It would be ideal to have this message available in many different places in our lives: in all the schools, including preschools; in the parks when the Friends of the various parks hold community events; at Town Day; public service announcements on the local access channel; perhaps even a safety video that could be checked out of the library. Parents should consider it something their children need to know, on the same level of importance as traffic, water, fire, stranger, and bike safety. Our family does not have a dog but we encounter dogs in the parks frequently. We use every encounter as a chance to teach our 2 children how to behave and be safe.

As with so many other parts of our lives, education is the key to prevention and reduction of risk. I hope that a community safety education component can be included in the Green Dog Committee’s future plans.