On a pier near West 14th Street, a Manhattan woman named Molly was walking with her Wheaten Terrier, named Boogie, yesterday afternoon. The dog was not on a leash (although New York City ordinances require dogs to be leashed just about everywhere, except designated fenced-in dog-runs). She reports that Boogie suddenly ran towards a seagull and plopped off the pier into the cold and mighty Hudson river. She jumped in after her dog, fearing it would be swept out by the strong current. She managed to get the pooch and hunker against one of the supporting legs of the pier. A passerby dialed 911 and New York’s Finest harbor police were soon there to pull her and the soaking wet dog from the water. The woman thanks the stranger who called for help, according to the Daily News:
“He saved my life and Boogie’s,” she said, adding that the terrifying ordeal wouldn’t stop her from doing the same thing again.
“I love [Boogie] very much or I wouldn’t have done it otherwise,” she said.
As observed by Garth Johnston in the Gothamist, there are many reasons for the existence of leash laws in the city: “One of the lesser known ones? To keep distraught owners from jumping into the Hudson to save their four-legged friends.”
This scenario occurs with a certain regularity in New York City, where paths and esplanades on both the Hudson and East River sides of Manhattan naturally attract dog-walking residents. I’ve contemplated what I would do if my own dog somehow fell in. Adrenaline would probably take over. However, since I can’t swim, it would be unlikely to end well for anyone except the local funeral home. For this and many other good reasons, I keep my dog on the leash.
With the multiplication of risk factors in a heavily urban environment, it never ceases to amaze me why so many dog owners determinedly flout the rules on leashes. One’s dog might run the wrong way and get hit by a car (or a bicycle); might just bolt off and get lost (and there are “Lost Dog” signs regularly posted on lampposts all over the place: I wonder how many of those dogs were leashed when they disappeared?); might be attacked by one of the many aggressive city Pit Bull types; might scarf up some rat poison in a corner somewhere when you can’t see; or just might earn you a fine of up to $500 for breaking the law.
Yet there are those — and when one walks the same places at the same time of day, one tends to see the same people — who just insist on walking their dogs without leashes. They’re usually not too easy to miss, because at one point or another they will be screaming at their top of their lungs for Fido to “Come back here!!!!” I’ve concluded that this leash-aversive behavior, on the part of the owners, is a mix of pride and laziness. For some it might be one more than the other. Some — and these in my view would usually be the male dog owners — see it as a way to show off: “Look how my dog walks without a leash and obeys my commands.” Others just can’t be bothered giving the dog the kind of walk it needs (or, Heaven forbid, the kind of run it needs) and so letting the dog off the leash lets them off the hook. It also inevitably lets them “off the hook” for the deposits the dog might leave in various places. Out of sight, out of mind. This is yet another good reason to have the leash law in the first place. Nothing outrages me more than stepping into something another dog owner has left behind.
Well — all that said, a word of thanks is due to God and the NYPD for the safe end to the story of Molly and Boogie. Perhaps a lesson has been learned.