A recent Facebook post about the Greenwich’s dog leash law drew dozens of comments in the Greenwich Connections group.
What prompted the outpouring was a photo on the front page of Greenwich Time of a dog running off leash dog alongside its owner on a path at Tod’s Point.
Dogs are allowed in the park from December 1 through March 31, but there are rules.
The photo sparked a disagreement over the rules.
So we called Animal Control and spoke to longtime Officer Suzanne Carlin to set the record straight.
Officer Carlin said the town leash law applies throughout the town’s parks and trails.
“And anywhere there is trails – Pomerance, Babcock – all dogs are supposed to be on leash,” she said.
As for the off-leash dogs, Carlin explained the only exception is below the high tide line, and only if a dog is under its owner’s control.
How do you know where is the high tide line?
Specifically, Officer Carlin said, “At low tide, where the sand is wet, that’s where you need to be. Where the sand is dry, that’s above the high tide mark.”
The water and beach below the high tide line are both considered part of Long Island Sound and not part of Greenwich.
“If it is high tide all dogs should be on the leash,” Carlin said. “And everywhere else in the park the dog has to remain on the leash.”
Carlin said it’s good practice to leash your dog when you put them in the car at home.
That way, when you arrive at the beach parking lot, the dog is already on the leash.
“It’s usually the parking lot that’s the problem,” she said. “The dog runs out all over the parking lot or people forget to bring a leash. Just like you leave the house with your keys and wallet and lock the door, remember to bring a leash.”
As for leashing your dog at the beach, she said, “It is respectful to others. It’s not a dog park. It’s a public park that people like to enjoy – maybe they want to walk with their kid or spouse, or walk for the exercise. It’s about being respectful and responsible.”
Asked about the owners of off-leashed dogs whose perennial refrain is, “Don’t worry, he’s friendly,” Carlin said, “It’s not about your dog. It’s about how other people perceive that dog as well. If you’re in an area that requires a leash, and that is throughout the park, your dog should be on leash.”
As for enforcement, she explained, “We can’t be everywhere. Dog owners need to be responsible for themselves and have a little respect.”
Officer Carlin explained there are two Animal Control officers. Eight days out of the month they are both on duty and share one van.
“We do our best to patrol,” she said. “We do go down (to Tod’s Point) to do enforcement. Police do patrol as well. Some people thank us for being there and others are annoyed.”
Carlin said Binney Park has been busy with dogs, and that many added to families during the pandemic.
“Not all of them are trained,” she noted, adding, “It has been a little bit better this year (in terms of complaints about off leash dogs and bites).”
On Wednesday this reporter followed Officer Carlin’s instructions, and brought our dog to the beach.
It was unseasonably mild and there weren’t many people at the park, probably because it was Greenwich Public Schools vacation week.
Kudos to Parks & Rec, for added convenience, free mutt-mitts were available in several locations.
Upon arrival an enormous electronic sign indicated the leash law was in effect, with $70-$140 fines.
The town ordinance about leashing dogs was clearly posted at all the entrances to the beach and around the park.
“All dogs must remain on a leash in the hands of an adult throughout the park – town ordinance 7-25.”
“All dogs must have a valid dog license attached to their collar or harness. Connecticut General Statutes 22-364, 22-363.”
“All dogs must be under control below the mean high water mark and may NOT cause a disturbance to any person or other animal. Connecticut General Statutes 22-364, 22-363.”
Maybe we were lucky, but there were no loose dogs above the high tide line and the dogs below the tide line were under their owners’ control.