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New Jersey town debates whether to allow dogs in public park

The town of Bogota is debating whether to allow pet owners to bring their dogs to the area's largest public park. Although this policy may eventually apply to the town's other parks as well, at this time the city's plan is to only allow pets at the one park. This means that some owners will have to travel a bit in order to take advantage of the new law.

Those who are in favor of the proposal say that the old rules prohibiting dogs are outdated and that many other communities allow dogs in parks. However, others have raised safety concerns about the possibility of dog attacks that may cause serious personal injury to innocent people who are enjoying the park.

Supporters of the measure say that the proposed new rules require that dogs be on a leash at all times and that they be handled by a responsible adult. While supporters seemed open to the possibility of a separate enclosed dog park where dogs could play without leashes, they still believe allowing dogs in the park is the first step.

In response to those who raised safety concerns about a possible dog bite, supporters pointed out that people, including children, are frequently outside in a number of locations during the summer, and dogs could be present at many of these locations. Nevertheless, supporters claim that dog bites are relatively rare in the community as a whole.

This measure is currently on hold pending further discussion and feedback from the public. However, even if the measure eventually passes, a local ordinance allowing dogs in a park does not alter the obligations a pet owner has to others under New Jersey law. Even if a dog is in a place where it is allowed to be when it bites, a pet owner may be liable to pay compensation for any bite injuries his or her pet causes.

Source: NorthJersey.com, "Bogota may allow dogs in Olsen Park," Mark Krulish, July 3, 2013

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