I had not heard the word “caca” in a long time, but when I read the following message it became pretty clear. This letter sent in to neighborhood parents from Vincent Santaniello has caused an uproar through email chains and the local NEWMA Google group. The discussion started with the problems at the baseball fields at Langone and Puopolo Parks, but expanded to refer to many of the parks of the North End / Waterfront.
I know I spend much more time than most of you down at the fields. It may not seem such a pressing issue to you. I am to the point now that I am asking you all to help me in stopping the abuse and breaking of the law by the dog owners on our CHILDREN’S baseball fields.
Sunday morning at 9AM, I was at the fields with two Cardinals (age 10) and Coach Dom had his 20 kids (ages 3-6) for his clinic.
There were a constant flow of dogs off their leases leaving CACA on ALL of the fields. When a man with a large dark brown dog and a blond woman with a small white dog came 3 feat from shortstop, I said to them, “You can’t have your dog off the lease and doing caca on the baseball fields.
The man replied IN FRONT OF THE CHILDREN, “You’re the guy who gave me a hard time before, F**k you, lick my ass”. You’re not even from the neighborhood”.
I called Animal Control a few times and they finally came.
Later we moved to the field near the Mirabella and found two large piles of dog caca, only 12″ from the home team bench. I have pictures of this as well as with our 9 year old Francesca Rubini frowning on the bench.
When another woman came by us with her dog, I said “Excuse me, can I show you something?” We walked over and I showed her the the TWO PILES OF DOG CACA next to the bench. She said “I pick my dog’s up”, I said “You can’t get all of it, you have to put your dog on a lease and take it immediately off the field”. She said “Where am I suppose to take my dog?” I replied, “I don’t care. You have to take your dog off the CHILDREN’S field” or I am going to call the cops.
She said “I don’t appreciate being “accosted” ” … What is that? Another “card” to use by a selfish, entitled jerk? Is that one of the lies she’s been trained to say when the cops actually come?
My reply was “I am calling the cops. And if you have any courage, you will not take off. If you do leave, that means you know you are wrong”. The cops came, but of course she was long gone.
I am going to do my best to try to make it a $200 fine to have your dogs either on the fields or off their leases, as it is on the Esplanade. I think I might have to start with a petition signed by as many people as we can. Please help me in any way you can.
The dog owners know that the cops are very busy and they have absolutely no respect for our CHILDREN. If one single CHILD of ours gets hurt because of the holes dug by the dogs or becomes sick because of the CACA, we will be forced to take even more serious action.
Shortly after Vin’s message went out, the responses started pouring in from other North End / Waterfront residents. Here are some excerpts:
I would be the first to sign a petition. The dogs are taking over the neighborhood. I like dogs, but the amount of irresponsible owners are out of control. They stare you down when you look to see if they pick up and then walk off without doing it! There are large deposits on every sidewalk in our neighborhood, and many dogs off leash when some children are very afraid of them.
There is not a place in the neighborhood where you can picnic or play without dogs intruding or without sitting in yuck! Very discouraging!
I think the best way to stop all kinds of bad behavior in this neighborhood is to keep taking pictures and posting them to Citizens Connect and Northendwaterfront.com. Related – I constantly wonder why two of the most scenic spaces in the neighborhood, the grass lawn overlooking the water at Christopher Columbus Park and the Prado, are used as dog parks with dogs off leash. Besides these places and the ball fields at Langone and other places our children use, there are plenty of places that dogs can go to the bathroom and be picked up after.
The Defilippo Playground on Prince Street is used as a toilet for hundreds of dogs. The signs “No Dogs” do not stop dog owners playing where our children play every day. The dog owners have a sense of entitlement as a dog owner using a children’s playground as a toilet. Dogs are in CVS, local bars that serve food, Post Office, Gone Bananas, Bova’s, when does the line not get crossed when it comes to public safety? When do the children come first?
Brenda makes a suggestion,
I share the frustration with having dogs using our parks as toilets, even more so now that I have three small children. We generally do not play in the grass or sit on a picnic blanket to enjoy the shows at Christopher Columbus Park because it is just too gross. But, I think of this sort of like dealing with skateboarders – create a better space for them so that they don’t chose to go where you don’t want them. That is more likely to work than fines that are hard to enforce.
For example, (and please don’t send me nasty-grams for this hypothetical suggestion) give some or all of the back lawn at Christopher Columbus Park to the dogs – the side away from the water. Fence it in and let the dogs run free from leashes there. The owners could still have a place enjoyable for themselves where their dogs can run, and other people could regain use of the remaining grass. I would rather give up some of the park to dogs than lose all of it to them as we do now.
In my mind there are 4 main things that could help reduce the problem:
1. Nice, well set up, big designated dog run, where dogs and their
owners would chose to go rather go than the ballfields, CC Park or
playgrounds. (any input from dog owners??)
2. Fine for dogs off leashes and/or using non-dog designated park
areas and sidewalks as toilet. (As Vin suggested)
3. Consequence for not paying fines.
4. A police officer available to target these violations – maybe at
random times to keep people on their toes without constant police
We all know this problem is out of control. It is disgusting and a shame. Sadly, I don’t feel the problem will go away as every other person has a dog. However, I think a petition (to get law enforcement to write fines) may be a good idea. If fines are written for those whose dogs are off leashes and/or on the baseball field at all people may actually stop bringing their dogs on the Baseball field. When people’s wallets get hurt things might get a little better. I do recognize there are other problems Officers are dealing with as well and can’t be monitoring the Park 24/7. I am not sure if fines are even issued for this.
Regarding the issue of Dog Parks: I live near the dog park on Richmond Street. Do you know how many times I have seen dog waste on Richmond Street and even right outside the entrance of the dog park? Why can’t people make it inside the park? What’s worse? They don’t pick it up!
Chris shares ideas and possible solutions,
Right now, a couple of bad eggs (probably not too many) think it’s acceptable to let their dog relieve itself on the ball fields where the kids play. On a few occasions over the past couple of years, I have picked up dog/human (believe it or not) feces from the dugout areas to make them useable, so there’s definitely some wrong stuff going on down there.
In East Boston, where my family is from, I’ve volunteered on a lot of open space and parks issues. We’re working on similar problems and realizing that we need to get the community involved in looking for as many creative solutions as we can find:
Among the solutions we’ve looked at for dog issues:
Getting residents talking to each other about the problem…
From what I can see, everyone in the North End loves their parks and fields and people would want to support an effort to cut the crap that’s going on down there. A newspaper article could help.
More signs can reinforce the message that people care a lot about this. Signs can be added both at the field and along the streets that lead to the fields…
Poop bag dispensers:
Where a problem like this is bad another response is to make doing the right thing not only normal, but easy. Dog poop dispenser systems are cheap, easy to install and easy to use. Putting two or three of them at each park would help… Here’s a link to one such device:
Police can’t be there all the time, the BPD is always looking to do more community based policing, so maybe the NEAA can get them to swing by during off times and just take a peek onto the fields. I doubt the police would be asked to f— off and to lick any posteriors…
Build a dog park:
Is there a need for a dog park? If people feel a need to let their dogs run off leash, can we give them a place to do it? I don’t know enough about the nooks and crannies of open space, but I know there are sometimes opportunities… and if it’s important enough, maybe some options… Google Earth is free and very helpful… Are there any spots that aren’t too near residences that could be a good place for a dog park?
Dog parks are very popular and can even be neighborhood amenities. They are also a good place to socialize dog owners about how to behave.