18 October 2017; (New Business)  Open Space Regulations – Review of Current Leash Laws
for Town of Fairfield Open Space Areas.
STATEMENT FROM: FARIFIELD BEACH ACCESS
With regard to the Commission’s agenda to review the current leash laws for Fairfield’s (public) Open Space Areas (Wednesday, 18 October), we take this opportunity to contribute opinion on behalf of our group: Fairfield Beach Access.
While we are sensitive to the horrific—no, sickening—incident that has led to this situation, we ask that the Commission incorporate restraint into what we know as its ordinarily careful and reasoned deliberation: and resist pressure to change or augment the current rules.
It is our position that the rules in their current form are sufficient and clearly written to ensure safety, general order, and respect for others.
Absent, however, is meaningful enforcement of this already-in-place policy.
We contend that acknowledging that there will always be competition within shared public spaces is a necessary framework for a reasoned and balanced approach to resolving any peceived problems.
Our membership advocates a considerate approach that respects the legitimate concerns of, for example, non-dog guardians and other “passive” users of public areas; while maintaining recreation zones for families to enjoy responsibly with their dogs. The key is managing those dynamics to accommodate the varying interests and expectations of everyone who visits them throughout the year, and, in resisting the tendency to incorporate intolerance as the over-arching theme that frames scrutiny of access to public Open Space Areas in Fairfield for families with dogs.
Among the suggestions we expect the Commission to examine is transitioning the Lake Mohegan Open Space Area to a “leash-only” designation.
We hope that the Commission will use this as a “last option” only.
Firstly, we contend that whatever the intent, increasing restrictions on families with dogs in this way will merely become a signal that the Town is unwilling to invest effort to resolve problems within the rules as they already exist. We do not believe that many of the stakeholders would regard that as a positive change.
Additionally, we ask that the Commission carefully weigh expert opinion on this issue: as veterinarians, animal behaviorists, and knowledgeable dog guardians all recognize that leashed dogs are more likely to engage in conflict; and that the resulting “anxiety aggression” as it is known is the opposite of what is desired or expected by leashing. This might inadvertently encourage even more problems.
Perhaps more importantly, we ask that the Commission consider what the dog guardian community itself needs to acknowledge openly: that there is a subset of our community that simply will not yield to reason, or to rule of law; and who, in some cases, fairly delight in challenging authority. We must acknowledge openly: that on some days, and/or at least in some areas, the “Lake area” is unappealingly out of control… and is worsening.
For those without dogs, the villains are often used to characterize the whole, and through this, frustration and resentment have continued to escalate. This is a tendency which we caution all in this dialogue must resist, since it is fair to say that there would be many competing stories to tell. That these miscreants—whose resolute determination to remain unfettered by any ordinary responsibility toward others—represent a small minority, does not make the specific problem now less troubling and worthy of action.
Given this reality, we would caution that imposing a “leash-only” designation at the Lake area would needlessly penalize the entirety of dog-guardian community. Moreover, rather than solve problems, we would expect offending walkers that we discuss above to merely dissipate to other places, thus: de-stabilizing more of these public areas Town-wide; while remaining ineffective at impacting those who really do need correcting.
In your review, we ask that the Commission reject suggestions that the dog guardian community can “self police” as folly: such expectations have proven time and again to be unrealistic, disheartening, and dangerous.
For many, the “Lake area” has transitioned into an unplesant and risky place to visit. The entire paradigm of how access is regarded in Fairfield’s public open spaces needs to dramatically improve. This will necessitate a collaborative effort among competing groups that we discuss. It is our opinion, however, that that goal is achievable with judicious energy.
Before a change in rules is pursued, we feel that the time has come for the Town to acknowledge this problem and to allocate dedicated financial resources for official monitoring of these areas—at the least, on an intermittent and perhaps unpredictable basis—so that the rules already in place are enforced and regarded meaningfully. Effort and creative thinking should be focused to resolve technical questions so that this process could be self-funding, or better still, perhaps even revenue-generating.
You can brighten the long, lonely day of a needy dog:consider volunteering at a shelter. Your used but servicable linens, towels, bathmats, or cushions can provide comfort while he waits. Need help affording veterinary care? click HERE • Find low-cost spay neuter services: click HERE
Food & Safety Recalls/FDA Advisories for Dog Foods: click HERE
To think about: American taxpayers spend more than $1 billion annually to fund municipal animal shelters.
In those facilities, 14,000 animals are killed each day, often brutally: even in archaic gas chambers...
many within merely hours of their arrival: why are they called shelters?