To the editor:
I am writing to urge my fellow citizens of Gloucester to stand and speak up for the dogs of Cape Ann.
If you cannot attend the City Council public hearing on Nov. 12 about the city’s dog laws, as described in the Nov. 2 article (the Times, Page 1), please write, email or call your ward councilor and the mayor’s office.
Whether you’re a dog owner, cat person or reptile fan, it’s hard to negate the integral link between humans and dogs that has existed for thousands of years.
Dogs as companions, workers, heat sources, protectors and hunting mates have played an important role in the evolution of the human species. They have earned and deserve a high level of respect and special consideration when it comes to their health and well-being.
It is commonly accepted that dogs demonstrate and experience a wide range of emotions, including fear, loyalty, depression and grief. Their presence has a proven health benefit for isolated elders or people recovery from illness.
They can use many human medications and suffer from similar diseases as they age, such as arthritis, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and cancer. Like humans, dogs have a biological need to connect with others of their species and build social bonds. It is critical to dogs’ mental and physical health to be able to run free on the beach, swim in the ocean, fetch a ball and play with other dogs.
I sympathize with Councilor Verga’s constituent who experienced a scary situation at Stage Fort Park. But the actions of a few should not negatively impact the majority of responsible dog owners and their pets. The new Dog Park is a welcome and wonderful new resource for our community, but it cannot compare to the expansive freedom and exercise potential at places like Good Harbor Beach.
Of course, some limits on dog behavior are needed to support public safety, but restricting dogs to a six-foot leash is not the answer. Denying dogs the opportunity for important socialization and healthy exercise without a leash is not the answer.
Citizens have drafted suggested language in a petition to amend the current city ordinances that allows off-leash exercise, but includes essential safeguards such as continuous visual and voice control, current vaccinations and licenses and the responsible removal of dog waste. Gloucester residents can sign the petition at Animal Crackers.
Violators should be punished, and all dog owners can help by reporting offenders and holding other owners accountable. A minority of irresponsible dog owners should not be given the power to punish the majority of attentive owners and their canines.
Humans owe a lot to dogs and have the responsibility to protect and care for their physical, mental and emotional health.
They deserve far better treatment than the criminalization of their basic dog nature.
Haven Terrace, Gloucester