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POLL: Dogs Off-Leash at Trout Brook Valley

The Aspetuck Land Trust instituted a mandatory leash policy at the preserve in northern Weston last November.

Do dogs have a right to roam freely in ?

According to The New York Times, humans are having a hard time agreeing on the fate of their furry friends.

In October, the Aspetuck Land Trust — which owns the 1,009-acre open space parcel located in Weston and Easton — instituted the year-long ban on walking dogs through the park's trails without a leash. The trust said it would be conducting a study on the preserve's wildlife during that time and that dogs off-leash would disturb that effort. (Hunting is seasonally allowed on the preserve.)

Proponents of the policy argue that they've felt threatened by dogs roaming freely without owners in sight, while those against it say the policy's unreasonable and just makes Trout Brook Valley one less place that you can hike your dog off-leash.

"It just amazes me that in a town of 20 square miles there's essentially only 100 acres you're allowed to hike your dog off-leash," said Benjamin Hume, who writes the Patch column .

Where do you stand on the issue?

Tuck February 28, 2012 at 12:42 PM
I'm a mountain biker with a dog. It seems that all the recent changes in the park have been designed to keep me out. (Prohibiting bikes from going on certain trails for no good reason, prohibiting bikers from riding with dogs, and now prohibiting dogs leash-free altogether.) Combine that with obnoxious Aspetuck board members accosting people in the parking lot, and I've taken their message to heart: I don't go there anymore, and I sure won't be contributing money again.
eileenbcinct February 28, 2012 at 12:55 PM
I first would like to say that I love dogs. I strongly feel that dogs should be leashed at Trout Brook Valley. My husband and I were at Lake Mohegan last month. This is a leash free trail. Just look around the trails at Lake Mohegan and the ground is eroded. It was very sad to see trails that were like Trout Brook Valley now have gone bare. Additionally, many a time that I have been hiking at Trout Brook Valley, I have heard dogs fighting. This alone should be the reason that dogs should be leashed.
Amy Sander February 28, 2012 at 02:07 PM
I completely agree. I think for most people, the appeal of going into the woods to hike (or bike) is for the peace and quiet. It is special not to walk alongside speeding cars on the road. It is special to walk for miles and not see another person. It allows you to reflect and relax and to feel like you have escaped every day life. Trout Brook has always been that way for me. I have always encountered friendly people. I always move out of the way to allow bikers to pass and they thank me. When I have walked my dog off leash, if I hear someone approaching, I always put him back on. He doesn't bark or jump on anyone, but I understand that some people fear dogs so I do it gladly. No problem. I read that Trout Brook was previously leash free for ten years without major incidents. And as far as dogs damaging the flora off the trials, how does that happen? Every dog I have ever encountered in Trout Brook has been next to his owner, on trial. I have never seen a dog pulling up plants. They just don't do that. Unfortuntately, I believe that activist board members have decided legislate the woods. It's kind of ironic: the thing that draws people to the woods is freedom and escape from the confines of society. Now, the woods are being legislated. Talk about a bunch of kill-joys. People get angry about this because a very special place of freedom and serenity is being "managed" when it was perfect the way it was.
Bill February 28, 2012 at 04:45 PM
When my little West Highland Terrier and I came upon roaming Dobermans that proceeded to jump up on me trying to get to my dog, yes, one's blood pressure tends to go up. Also, your dog may be friendly but what if another dog is not? All dogs should be closely tended by their owners, leashed or unleashed.
Energysol February 29, 2012 at 12:14 AM
It's the dogs that their owners say that he's harmless only to jump up on you, or worse take a nip because they sense your fear of not knowing how freindly or not they really are is the only thing that bugs me about dogs off leash. Most dogs encountered their arew very freindly and do nor needd to be on a leash; it;s the small % off dogs that are closet wolves that their owners won't accept as the truth - "ohh not by baby he's an angel". Besides those few exceptions as noted above, I think the notion that dogs are any worse to the fauna than the natural animals that live their is a farce. What I think we should be much more wary of are the gun and arrow toting hunters that could easily kill a runner or hiker by mistake, and who are found off trail tapsing on the fauna with a much heavier footprint than any stray dog enjoying the cornucopia of wild smells on their short excursion into the wilderness. If there were a way to report bad dogs in a way that their owners could be detected and not allowed back with their dogs, then the problem of free roming dogs would be solved. Personally I feel dogs attitudes are usually mimicked through their owners - good people; good dogs, and you can guess the rest.
Roger February 29, 2012 at 12:18 AM
Although the majority of off-leash dog owners keep their dogs in check when people pass by, I have been nipped at, barked at, lunged at, and chased by dogs that were not kept in check by their owners. I'm sorry, but a few bad apples DO ruin the crop. After so many bad experiences, I get anxious when I see a dog coming toward me off-leash. I am a big man and I feel that way, how do small children and others feel? Is this issue about the welfare of dogs or the righteousness of dog owners?
Kent February 29, 2012 at 03:19 PM
The question being asked was whether you thought there were enough places nearby to hike your dog off-leash, and my response to that question is 'no'. The reasons being that nearby options such as Devil's Den in Weston forbids dogs, the nearby Aspetuck Valley Trail system forbids dogs, and even nearby Huntington Park is requiring that dogs be leashed. This information should please those who are wary of the presence of dogs on trails, but I thought that at least for a short while, the custodians of Trout Brook had addressed the leash question exactly right when they requested that dog owners be prepared to leash their dogs whenever asked to, but stopped short of making 'leashed' dogs a full-time requirement. It's been my observation as a frequent that most people who visit Trout Brook, with or without dogs, tend to focus on the southern end of the park which would naturally mean that there would be greater interaction between people and dogs in that area then in any other. It would seem like a reasonable compromise to permit dogs off-leash on those trails that were beyond a quarter mile or so from the primary trailheads to the preserve, such as Bradley Road in Weston. Just my two cents.
Kent February 29, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Sorry, meant to write "It's been my observation as a frequent visitor". I need a better proofreader than me.
Steve March 04, 2012 at 02:07 PM
By my count, despite the new rules, the majority of dogs are still off leash. The trails are still littered with dog waste. Many selfish dog owners feel they have no obligation to follow Aspetuck Land Trust's rules or respect the rights other people who don't happen to love their pet. I have a right to hike without being growled at, jumped on, or even have to worry about free roaming dogs. I have a right to hike without stepping in dog waste. I welcomed the new rules and saw it as an opportunity to return to hiking one of the most beautiful properties in the area. Unfortunately, given the entitled attitude of many dog owners, rules without enforcement are nothing more than a farce. "My dog is well behaved so I am exempt from the rules" is no different than "I am a good driver so I am allowed to speed". I would love to see dog wardens issuing tickets.
Nighthawk March 05, 2012 at 05:07 PM
I certainly understand Steve's 3/4/12 perspective, but I have to disagree with his assessment of the amount of dog feces he claims to encounter on TBV trails. My own experience - and I hike there a lot - is quite the opposite. Perhaps Steve is mistaking dog poo with horse flop, which I DO come across regularly?
Amy Sander March 05, 2012 at 11:30 PM
"The trails are still littered with dog waste" really? The 1,009 acres are "littered with dog waste"? I would call that an exageration. Let's be honest here. Don't make things up. That's just not true. And guess what, horses poop in the middle of the trail and I just step around it and don't write dramatic posts about it. Can't we all just get along?

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