The Mahwah Township Council in New Jersey will be holding a hearing tonight to decide whether or not dogs will be allowed in public parks -- even on leash. Apparently, there have been numerous complaints about dog owners not picking up after their dogs or keeping them under control (a dog running onto the field to chase a soccer ball -- during a game -- is what prompted this, in fact).
Wow. Now, to be fair, people absolutely have a reason to be irritated -- but to fully ban dogs in public places seems more than a little overboard. And what about the irresponsible dog owners in this situation? Why are they getting off scott-free? Shouldn't they be the ones facing punishment, rather than their dogs, who are just being, well... dogs?
As a dog-lover, this is clearly a hot-button issue for me, but I don't think my personal feelings are getting in the way of seeing this for the asinine overreaction that it clearly is. Do they really think the same people who aren't picking up after their pets are going to pay attention to a new ordinance banning dogs from public parks? And if Mahwah isn't able to enforce its current pooper-scooper laws, what makes the council think they'll have the resources to enforce a full-on dog ban? Now, to be sure, one area in which they will find success is in compliance from the responsible pet owners (you know, those delinquents with the well-behaved dogs and the seemingly endless supply of poop bags), but that's obviously not much of a silver lining.
Look, people who don't pick up after their dogs and/or let them become a nuisance in public areas are a genuine problem. Their behavior poses public health and safety risks, and on top of that, casts a negative light on all dog owners. Everybody at NAIA agrees that these people should be punished in accordance with the law (and yes -- they are breaking the law).
But let's not throw the Basenji out with the bathwater, OK? Creating an ordinance that unfairly punishes everybody for the behavior of a few will only create more problems than it solves; we sincerely hope the Mahwah Township Council decides upon the novel approach of actually enforcing current laws before enacting this ridiculous ordinance.