This blog post was originally included as an article in the Bella Vista Neighbors Association's Summer 2019 Newsletter.
I’m a dog lover. My life revolves around dogs. I make a living working with dogs. As a company we have completed over half a million LEASHED dog walks in the City. And we are HUGE leash advocates. Why?
Let’s start with the basics. Dogs are animals. Even if your dog is a wiz at verbal commands, recalls without fail and is and a certified therapy dog, your dog is still an animal. And while you think your dog is predictable, they can be unpredictable, instinctual beings. A car could backfire at just the wrong moment and your dog could bolt into the street. There is a saying in the dog rescue world that “no dog is bomb proof.” Meaning, any dog can, and will, act out of character when faced with something scary. Life is unpredictable and leashes keep our best friends safe in those surprising moments.
I sit on the Mayor’s Animal Advisory Committee for the City of Philadelphia, and I can tell you without a doubt: it is the law to keep your dog leashed. There’s nothing flashy about this. Leashing your dog makes you a good Philly citizen and you are breaking the law if you do not.
Finally, leashing your dog makes you a good neighbor. The fact is that many people live with legitimate fear of dogs from past trauma or bites. In a public space, they should not face an off-leash animal, even if it’s your totally friendly dog. Your dog’s freedom is not more important than their right to enjoy a shared, public space. (And I say that as someone who loves nothing more than watching dogs run around like lunatics.) Additionally, dog professionals will tell you that one of the MOST DANGEROUS times for leashed dogs is when an off-leash dog approaches them. I don’t have the word count to go into the behavioral dynamic at play between leashed and off-leash dogs (hint: fight or flight), but trust me that you are much more likely to experience a dog fight in that moment than at any other time. (Professional dog walkers know where off-leash dogs tend to be and avoid these areas at all costs. We know how dangerous the interactions can be.)
Luckily for us there are two off-leash dog parks within easy walking distance for most of us in Center City. These spaces are great for safe, off-leash fun and dog socialization. Be a good neighbor, obey the law, AND protect the safety of your best friend (and other dogs) by leashing them 100% of the time. These are some of our favs:
Queen Village - Mario Lanza Dog Park: 3rd and Catharine
Washington Sq West: Seger Dog Park: 11th and Rodman
Fitler Square: Schuylkill River Park Dog Run: 25th and Spruce streets
Old City: Market Street Dog Run: 1 Delaware Avenue (along the parking lot), Penn’s Landing (on the water!)
Passyunk Square: Dog Park at Bok (Corner of 9th Street and Dudley Street)
Passyunk Square: Columbus Square Dog Park (12th and Wharton)