Over the last couple of months I witnessed Somerville government inability to deal with simple city issues which could potentially have dire consequences.
After purchasing a home in Somerville in 2008 I have began using the community path (from Cedar St) to commute daily to Davis Square where I catch the Red Line. Since then I’ve noticed that the community path, especially between Morrison and Cedar streets have become a free-for-all doggy park, where owners turn their dogs loose.Having rather unpleasant encounters with dogs as a child, and being attacked by a ‘friendly’ Labrador Retriever on the path before (on the Cambridge side) – I have a bit of anxiety when it comes to unrestrained dogs. I also don’t think it’s right to have unleashed dogs in areas that have clearly posted leash law signs, especially on the path right next to children’s playground. (Over 60% of dog attacks are attacks on children, almost all of the attacks are by loving pets rather than ferocious pit bulls)
After witnessing this I began to remind owners (most of them I would see everyday) about the leash laws – but I ceased doing this because I would get violent responses and some threatened to sick their dogs on me.
Then I began writing certified letters to the City Hall, Animal Control and Police Department – no response.
I also approached Aldermen from Ward 5 and 6 couple of months ago about this subject – they sympathized but I haven’t seen any improvment.
I also met with the Mayor who completely agreed with my concern and said that he would ask the police department to dispatch some officers on the path – I must say that I haven’t seen any officers on the path, especially during rush hours.
I’ve started placing calls to 311 about the problem who would forward me to the police department who said they would report this to animal conrol. I don’t think that dispatches consider this a serious issue and think that me whining to the Police dept on daily basis is gonna make me a good guy in their eyes. ( i have spoken to an officer sargent that said that he thinks it’s a serious issue)
Finally after venting to some friends about Somerville’s inability to enforce their own laws, some suggested that I protect myself and get myself some pepper spray. I found out however, that in order to legally obtain ‘mace’ in Mass, one has to obtain a weapons license, which is practically impossible to obtain by a legal resident alien like myself. This kind of irks because it seems that dogs have more rights than immigrants.
I know in other parts of the country people sued the respective governments for failure to protect them from dogs (http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20080131-9999-1m31dogs.html) but I don’t think that’s a very productive approach (although if get attacked again I probably would).
I hate to wait until I get attacked again or some pooch mauls a kid to death on the community path. What are some ways that I can help ensure mine and others safety on the path? What else can be done to make the city recognize this problem and do something about it ?