Dear Paws4Pets: I walk early every morning around my neighborhood, and almost every time I walk past the elementary school, I see people letting their dogs run around the grassy part of the playground. This is right around sunrise, before school opens. I don’t think this should be allowed. What if a dog leaves a nasty “surprise” for the kids? Who should I call to report this?
– Concerned in New England
Dear Concerned: While you raise a good point about dogs possibly leaving waste behind after romping around the playground, there doesn’t appear to be any other harm done from your description of what’s going on. Before calling to report these dastardly evildoers, be sure to check municipal, county or school board regulations about pets. There probably are regulations about when and where pets can’t go — like inside the school or on the grounds during school hours — but there may not be any rule stopping pet owners from letting their dogs romp on the grass at 6 a.m. I’m somewhat ambivalent about telling you how to stop a dog owner from letting his dog play in a controlled area. It’s become very difficult for urban and suburban owners to find open, unregulated places for their pets to play. But it’s certainly your right to voice your concerns, to the city or the school board. For pet owners faced with a dearth of open spaces, it’s more important now than ever to make a good impression on neighbors, many of whom aren’t thrilled about off-leash anything — even designated dog parks. Socialize your dog to humans and other dogs from a young age, make sure your pet responds promptly to basic commands, pick up its mess from sidewalks and grounds right away, and be considerate to others.