Press Releases

Tuesday, April 10, 2007
No. 33

Off-leash Hours Policy Approved

Today, the Parks Department announced a change in the rules concerning off-leash dogs in parks. Thirty days from now, the successful “courtesy hours” policy will officially become part of Parks’ rules and regulations. With proof of a current rabies vaccination and license information, owners can allow dogs to run off-leash in certain designated areas from the time the park opens until 9 a.m. and from 9 p.m. until the park closes. The designated areas are listed on the Parks website at Over the past twenty years, this policy has kept parks and neighborhoods safer, allowed owners to exercise and socialize their dogs, and reduced the number of dog bites.

“Through a public process, the Parks Department codified the successful, long-standing “courtesy hours” policy for the benefit of all New Yorkers,” said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “We know that a tired dog is a good dog and for the last two decades, this policy has made parks safer and has allowed dog owners to exercise and socialize their pets.”

Not all parks will have off-leash hours - in some areas, dogs are prohibited at all times (e.g. playgrounds, ballfields, zoos). Off-leash hours are not necessary in parks with a dog run (enclosed areas where dog owners may allow their pets to exercise and socialize themselves unleashed). More information, including a list of off-leash areas, dog runs, and all Parks Rules & Regulations concerning dogs in parks is available here.

Beginning May 10, parks will be grouped into four designated categories: 1) No dogs allowed; 2) Dogs must be on-leash at all times; 3) Designated dog run; and 4) Designated off-leash area.

The amended rule will also require all dogs in parks to be licensed and that owners be able to show proof that they have been vaccinated against rabies, as required by New York State and City law.

Allowing responsible dog owners to exercise their dogs is good for the community. Dog owners are community members who regularly visit parks, and have a vested interest in keeping parks clean and safe. Their constant presence, especially at night when parks are less crowded, helps keep parks and the surrounding neighborhoods safe.

Codifying the City’s “courtesy hours” was a long process that encouraged community input. The response was overwhelmingly supportive of the policy. The Department of Health voted to adopt the amendment to the Health Code to make explicit Parks’ authority to amend Parks rules. The Parks Department welcomed community feedback and held a public hearing followed by a period to review comments.

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