To Leash or Not To Leash? Dog Controversy in Concord

Dog owners in Concord, Massachusetts, are fighting for their right to unleash their dogs on town property.

The town is considering preventing dog owners from letting their pets run free through Estabrook Woods and other areas.

"Most people who own a dog, they know Estabrook Woods and they like to go there," said Jeff Young, a dog owner.

Young and his Aussiedoodle, Chester, visit Estabrook Woods multiple times a week.

"It's just a great place to come with another dog and they can play together and run in the woods," said Young.

Estabrook Woods is nearly 1,200 acres, both privately and publicly owned.

According to Delia Kaye, the town's natural resources director, the town owns about 115 acres.

"Right now under current regulations dogs must be under direct voice control at all of our conservation lands," said Kaye.

A new regulation being considered by town officials would require all dogs to stay on a leash.

Many private land owners have made the change and now the town could follow suit.

"There is substantial literature that demonstrates that off-leash dogs have a significant effect on wildlife," said Kaye.

Young isn't buying that argument.

"I think they're kind of overstating the issues with the wildlife," said Young.

Areas that could adopt the policy include Punkatasset, Monument Farm, Mattison Field and White Pond.

Kayla Randazzo, a dog walker, said the policy doesn't seem fair.

"A lot of people like to come to Concord, and move here in the first place, because it's a dog-friendly town," said Randazzo. "Making everyone not be able to take their dogs out and play and meet other dogs just wouldn't be dog friendly."

The town hasn't made a decision yet, but signs instructing owners to keep their pets on a leash have already been placed on what Young said is a public access road into Estabrook.

"This is relatively new, they just put this up this year," said Young.

After a public hearing in May, Young started an online petition that's now garnished more than 600 signatures.

"To go off-leash is what it's really all about," said Young.

Kaye said dog owner's concerns are being considered, "one solution to that is a dog park."

Kaye said town officials plan on holding another public hearing in the fall.

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