Going to the Dogs

There are many dogs and dog lovers in our neighborhood. But it is important to be a respectful and lawful dog owner.

Over the years, there have been many instances of leash law violations – of dogs running loose in our area. Some residents allow their dogs to run loose all the time. It is bad enough to let dogs run loose at all, but when these violations are frequent (sometimes even daily!), it is a serious problem.

One of the problems with “free roamers” is that many are not content to hang out only in their own yards. They start traveling across several yards, or even entire blocks, expanding their territory and causing confrontations with other animals, or endangering themselves from cars or other loose dogs.

The large lots in Jackson Heights are something we all cherish, so please take advantage of that. The lots are so large that dogs can run around freely in them and get plenty of exercise. There is no need to let them run loose in the streets and into other neighbors’ yards.


Even dogs which are generally friendly, if allowed to run loose, may harass cats, wildlife or other dogs that are behind fences. Not only are other animals at risk, but the dog running loose is in danger as well. Below are some of the reports/complaints received from our residents during and prior to 2008.

Danger to people and other people’s pets

In years past, two residents – who lived on different streets – had pet rabbits killed by loose dogs. The rabbits were kept locked in pens behind backyard fences. The dogs got into the residents’ fenced backyards by jumping over or digging under the fences, and then tore the rabbit hutches apart. Even dogs which are usually friendly, if they detect the smell of rabbit, or see a cat, may chase or even kill the other animal.

A resident’s dog (kept behind a backyard fence) was being harassed by a neighbor’s loose dog. The neighbor’s loose dog was taunting the fenced dog to the point where the fenced dog managed to get out and then got into a fight with the loose dog. The vet bill for the dog that was lawfully contained behind a fence, and which would have stayed there if not for the harassment of the loose dog, was $500.

A woman was walking on the opposite side of the street from where two loose dogs were sitting in a front yard. One crossed the street, ran up behind her and bit her on the calf. She attempted to move on down the street but the dog continued to growl at her and it lunged at her whenever she made a move. She yelled for help and finally a biker came along and the dogs retreated.

A woman and her daughters came home to find a pack of three dogs in their backyard. The dogs were sitting, looking up into some trees. They had treed the family’s pet cats. When the family started to get out of their car, one of the dogs charged one of the woman’s daughters. They chased the dogs away and got the cats down. The next morning, they heard dogs barking (the dogs had come back) and they found one of their pet cats mauled to death in their front yard.

Even a normally gentle dog, if allowed to run loose, may tangle with other dogs or with cats over territory. And two or more loose dogs together may develop a “pack mentality” which can bring out aggressive behavior in otherwise friendly dogs. A quote from a 2009 CNN.com article: “As few as two or three dogs, whether urban, suburban or rural, can behave like a pack. When pack mentality takes over, they do insane things that they would not do under normal circumstances.”

The danger for the loose dog

Loose dogs have been reported to chase and sometimes be killed by cars, particularly on the busier streets like Michael Blvd. Many a beloved pet has been lost this way. This is a hazard to both dog and driver, even if the driver is going the speed limit.

A resident was backing her car out of her driveway and ran over her neighbor’s dog, killing it. She didn’t see it behind her car and if the loose dog had been contained behind a fence in the neighbor’s yard or in the house, this would not have happened.

A resident shot and killed an aggressive loose dog that jumped his fence and attacked his own dog, which was lawfully contained behind the man’s fence. This is not an action most people would condone, but when a beloved pet is in danger of being seriously injured or killed, some people may react quite strongly to defend their own pet.

Keep your pet safe! Keep your dogs behind a fence or in your house for their own safety, as well as the safety of other animals.

Property Values / Quality of Life Issues

Loose dogs are also a turn-off for people seeking to buy homes in this area. When prospective homebuyers are driving around here house-hunting, and they see dogs running around loose (or worse, chasing their cars!), it will be obvious that some residents here hold no regard for the leash laws. This gives the impression of a lack of respect and thoughtfulness among neighbors.

It is also a turn-off for many people who already live here, which may encourage good residents to move out. This is how a small thing can snowball into a larger thing. Word might get around that Jackson Heights is tolerant of leash law violators, so people who have little regard for the leash law (and possibly other laws as well) decide to move here, and ultimately the property values are lowered for us all.

Loose Dog Sightings

If you see a dog running loose, you have several options:

If the dog has a collar and tag, and it seems friendly, and you feel comfortable approaching it, you may want to see if there is a number on the tag that you can call to alert the owner that their dog is out.

If you do not feel comfortable approaching it, take a photo of the dog with a camera or your cell phone for a positive ID for the authorities. You can also post the photo on our Yahoo forum and maybe someone will know to whom the dog belongs.

If you know the dogs’ owners, please remind your neighbors that letting them run loose is a violation of leash laws.

Call Animal Control (311) to come out and pick up the dog, and take it to an animal shelter.

Suggestions for Dog Owners

Again, there is no need to let dogs out to run in the streets. We all have large lots and plenty of room in our yards. If you are a dog owner, please consider the following (and encourage your dog-owner neighbors to do the same):

Put up a fence to create a great playground for your dogs in your own yard. It’s safer for your dogs, your neighbors and your neighbors’ pets.

Walk your dog on a leash around the neighborhood. It’s great exercise for you too. You will get to meet other dog lovers that way as well.

At the very least, if you occasionally let your dog run loose in your yard, please stay with your dog during that time to make certain it does not leave your yard, and please allow this only for a short period of time. Please do not allow your dog to run into the streets or into other neighbors’ yards.

Barking Dogs

We have also had reports of dogs which bark too much. Some dogs even bark nonstop for hours on end, destroying the serenity and peaceful atmosphere of our neighborhood. Watchdogs are great, but if you have an incessant barker, please train them not to bark endlessly out of boredom, or at your neighbors who may simply be walking around in (or sitting and relaxing in) their own yard adjacent to yours.

A Note About Cats

Please keep your cats indoors if possible. If you do have indoor-outdoor cats, please limit their time outside to just a few hours a day, and avoid leaving them out at night when they might tangle with more aggressive strays or wildlife such as raccoons and possums. Also please make sure your cat is properly spayed or neutered to help combat the overpopulation of strays. Sterilized cats are less territorial, less aggressive, and do not impregnate (or become impregnated by) other free-roaming cats.


Thank you for your help in keeping Jackson Heights lawful and a pleasant experience for all!

Related Links

CNN.com article on dogs’ pack mentality: