Incident On Wissahickon White Trail, Or, An Open Letter To Dog People

April 10, 2014 | by Bradley Maule


The beautiful Wissahickon gorge, with a dog off-leash and off the trail | iPhone photo: Bradley Maule

The beautiful Wissahickon gorge, with a dog off the leash and off the trail | Cell phone photo: Bradley Maule

DISCLOSURE: As anyone who’s seen my Instagram feed or seen the web site I’ve operated since 2002 can tell you, I am a Cat Person. I’m also a Leo (the lion, a cat), and I am an only child. I can’t help these things. But just because I am a Cat Person, that doesn’t mean I am anti-dog. I like some dogs a lot, like my friend Mark’s French bulldog Hugo, who’s my buddy, and my friend Liz’s three-legged chihuahua Bertie, who’s just the sweetest thing.

But some dogs. Some dogs are the worst, and it’s not even their fault—it’s their owners’ fault, for not having the care to train them better or even feign concern for other people. Anyone who spends a regular amount of time in Philadelphia’s magical Wissahickon Valley Park encounters this type of dog owner all the time.

I completely understand the instinct to let your dog off the leash to run wild, exercising its animal-ness, to sniff, play, even swim in the creek. City dogs live in small spaces and they need to get out too. The Wissahickon is just as magical a place for them. But there are rules for a reason.

In the latter half of yesterday’s picture perfect spring afternoon, I hiked from the trailhead at Emlen Street and Allens Lane up to that at Chestnut Hill Avenue, above the covered bridge. This four-mile-or-so hike was the Week 14 installation of my yearlong project in which I collect, sort, inventory, and store all the litter I come across. (At the end of the year, I will present my findings at a venue to be determined.)

Doing such a project means that sometimes you have to go off-trail. People throw their garbage—Gatorade bottles, Bud Light cans, yogurt containers, pregnancy tests—into the woods. It’s gross. But I’d rather bend a rule and go off-trail to fetch an unnatural bottle glimmering in the sun than leave it to ruin someone else’s view too. Going off-trail leaves you susceptible to poison ivy, something that took me three whole months to catch. Retrieving pieces of trash under brush and in the creek is much easier when you carry a trash grabber. The one I have, on loan from Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, is an Arcoa brand Pro Pick-up Tool, an aluminum shaft with a pistol grip and rubber “grabber” cups at the end. My cat seriously dislikes the thing, so it makes sense that the two dogs a woman from Chestnut Hill was walking off-leash disliked it too.

Newsflash: the law states that dogs within Wissahickon Valley Park must be on a leash no greater than six feet. This just in: most people disregard this law. This can be troublesome, not just for people hiking by themselves deep in the woods, but for law-abiding dog owners who clearly get it. So few people leash their dogs—I’m keeping a tally as part of my project, of dogs on-leash and off-leash, as well as a tally of piles of dog shit and bags of dog shit that someone went to the trouble to pick up only to then throw the bag into the woods—that I almost want to thank those who do. In fact, at Friends of the Wissahickon’s Trail Ambassador program, this very scenario is the one posed by veteran ambassador Shelly Brick during training, a situation to which trainees are asked to hypothetically react. She told the class that she actually does thank the people walking their dogs on a leash.

Last evening on the White Trail, between Valley Green and Rex Avenue, the Chestnut Hill woman let her two medium-size dogs run free, off the leash. It was one of those instances in the woods where you’re going the same direction as someone else on a trail. I keep a pretty fast pace, so I generally say hello and then get up ahead pretty quickly.

The first time I got up ahead, I spotted a bottle a few feet off-trail and had to scramble up to get it. The dogs were so ahead of this woman that I couldn’t see her, and one of them approached me to see what I was doing. I said something banal like “hi doggy” and continued on. The second time, I stopped to have a drink of water and look at my map. The dogs ran up again and disturbed my peace (which, you know, is what you seek when you enter the woods alone). And then, the third time.

Here it comes | Photo: Bradley Maule

Wow. Such incident | Cell phone photo: Bradley Maule

Approaching Rex Avenue, which leads from Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill down to Forbidden Drive across a bridge, I noticed four cans about 10′ off the trail down a bank. By this point, I carried in my hands two plastic grocery bags full of litter I’d collected since Mt Airy and had a third in my backpack. I shimmied down to the cans and got my bag ready, when the two dogs ran up the trail and then followed me down the bank. Then they started growling.

I said, “whoa whoa, take it easy there dogs,” and the woman, white and probably 50, nonchalantly called for them. They kept growling and then started barking, and she said, “they don’t like your [trash grabbing] stick.” They kept growling and barking, moving close enough to me that I had to defend myself with the thing.

The woman then said, “they sense fear—they’ve never done this before!” If they’ve never done this before, how did she know it was fear? It was only irritation moments before, but now I had two coyote-sized dogs slobbering and showing their teeth as they growled and barked at me, so yeah, I was a little startled.

As the dogs started lunging toward me, I shouted, “lady you better do something about this!” And she replied, “what do you want me to do, they’re down there!” As I continued to fend off the animals with my trash grabber, she finally came to her senses and did come get them, pulling both by their collars back up to the trail.

Before she started walking away, both dogs still off-leash, she had the nerve to tell me how I should react if this ever happens again: “just say hi and say their name.” Adrenaline rushing, I snapped back, “this is exactly why there is a leash law,” and she muttered something under her breath and walked off toward Chestnut Hill.

Last month, Ronnie Polaneczky wrote a fascinating story for the Daily News about a recurring altercation between two dog owners in Pennypack Park which resulted in one owner killing the other’s dog, which repeatedly ran off-leash and which the alleged dog killer warned the other about. To paraphrase Chris Rock, I’m not saying he should have killed that dog, but I understand.

Dogs can be awesome, but dogs can also be frightening, especially if they’re running free through the woods on their animal instincts.

To the good Dog People, I plea to you: you’re good people and your dogs reflect that—can you please convince the bad Dog People to have the same respect of others? As with anything—cyclists, drivers on 76, apples—one bad one spoils the bunch. “Oh he’s just really friendly” or “oh she must like you” is absolutely no excuse. Nor is “they don’t like your stick” or “they’ve never done this before.”

I want to like your dog. Keeping it on a leash, as is the law, or at very least keeping it near you when there are other people around, goes a long way toward accomplishing that.


Soapbox gives readers and contributors of Hidden City Daily the opportunity to share their thoughts on topical issues with smart, engaging discussion. Have an idea for an op-ed? Drop us a line and join the conversation: editor@hiddencityphila.org


About the Author

Bradley Maule Bradley Maule is a former co-editor of the Hidden City Daily and the creator of Philly Skyline. He's a native of Tyrone, Pennsylvania, and he's hung his hat in Shippensburg, Germantown, G-Ho, Fishtown, Portland (Oregon), Brewerytown, and now Mt. Airy. He just can't get into Twitter, but he's way into Instagram @mauleofamerica.


  1. J Coleman says:

    Dogs off the leash are also a threat to the wildlife frequently seen along the Wissahickon. And while I’m at it, all dog owners need to be picking up after their dogs; I’m tired of seeing/smelling dog crap everywhere.

  2. beth says:

    I love hiking & running along the wissahickon trails. Off leash dogs are a constant presence and often a danger along the areas with steep drops/inclines. When I’m out for a run and I come across an off leash dog who starts barking, I do not want to hear the owner explain “oh, you surprised him. He startles easily”.

  3. CJ Bowden says:

    This isn’t an open letter to “dog people” it’s an open letter to people who self-identify as “dog people” but really know nothing about dogs or being a good pet owner. If you are a truly good pet owner you understand that letting your dogs roam free like that is as harmful to them as it is to the people, animals, and other living things around them as they do.

    Allowing your dog to go off leash is harmful to other dogs and dangerous. What if there is an aggressive dog (on leash) but your off leash dog comes up to it to say hello? If the aggressive dog feels intimidated and attacks, you have no means of pulling your dog away, and it may follow the aggressive dog as the owner and leash-law-abider pulls their pup out of the fray. This can result in two dogs, and perhaps the leash-using dog-owner, being seriously injured.

    What’s more: it’s the law for a reason, period. While you may see your dogs as the most wonderful and friendly, other people may not. This world is, sadly, very rarely going to align with the same opinions as your own and while you may think that everyone can love your dogs if they just give it a shot, they probably won’t. More people are afraid of dogs than you think and more dogs are aggressive or at least poorly trained than you think- this could include your dog (shocker).

    Plus if you want your dog to run off leash, take it to one of the many wonderful parks in Philadelphia and the Philly-metro area. They are full of other dog-minded people as yourself and they are fenced and sanctioned allowing for a safe and exciting experience for your dog and you.

    P.S. I am a full time dog walker and I’ve seen it all. Leash your goddamn dogs, you don’t look like a cowboy with fido running around the streets like a maniac- you look like an inconsiderate moron.

    1. JS1056 says:

      Thank You! I keep my dogs on leash and will not walk them in the woods because of dogs off leash. My dogs may bite your dog if your dog get in my dogs face. Most times when I ask someone to please leash their dog I get belligerence. I believe this response to be ego related. I’ve even been reminded that Pennsylvania is a “voice command” state. Well, Philadelphia is not a state. There is a leash law in Philadelphia. I’m not trying to tell you what to do, I’m trying to tell you that it is not safe to have your dog off leash. Take your dog to an off-leash dog park. They can run free! Give the rest of us peace of mind that we won’t have to encounter a dog “situation”. With my dogs on leash we have been attacked by off leash dogs. I have busted my knees, and have had to pry my dogs off of off-leash dogs. For gods sake just put your dog on a leash. What are your trying to prove?

      1. chrisb says:

        I once asked a dog owner to leash his dog who was charging my (leashed) dog while the owner continued to run up the hill. I was told the dogs would “work it out”. My dog has been bitten before, he did not “work it out” or defend himself. He just looks to me to do something. We still see this owner, the dog is never on leash, and I’m terrified the dog is going to bite mine one day.

    2. Keith Horr says:

      The Park Rangers will be able to ticket you for not abiding to the leash law here in Philly. If they catch you this season, it’s a hefty fine.

      1. Jim says:

        I know and I’m completely fine with that. You break the law, you pay the fine.

      2. Cara says:

        Not in reality. I have had the police come out on a 911 call when I was attacked by a pit bull and two boxers. The dogs were restrained on private property. It turns out that the three people had five dogs and two leashes among them. The officers who responded said they could not give any citations for dogs off leash. The woman who was in charge of this group was one of these “dog walkers/trainers” who advertise that they will take dogs to run off leash in the Wissahickon. Nothing was done and she was back next week with these dogs.
        Also, many dog owners will tell you that the fine for dogs off leash is less than that for a parking ticket. Since people can refuse to show ID, they can give any name and address they want to the rangers and police. Then there is also the matter of licenses and tags. Dogs are supposed to have them on their collars when out in public. There are supposed to be fines for not having those as well. I had a woman tell me that her dog didn’t need to have tags because he was micro chipped.
        They only thing that will prevail is to make the fines substantial and have the law enforced. Otherwise, we will need to have a child or someone notable to be savaged by dogs before we see any response to the problem of having dogs allowed to run at large.

  4. MDS Chill says:

    I have tried (as a Good Dog Person who only ever ventures out with my dog leashed) and i have given up. Dog owners who let their dogs run around off-leash (and it’s an ordinance that applies across the whole city) simply will not listen to you. The only way this attitude is ever going to change is with enforcement of the leash law, and i have no confidence that will ever be a priority for Philadelphia.

    1. Grg says:

      They can’t be bothered keeping people from swimming in the Wissahickon (aka Pissahickon from all the sewage plants upstream), so I don’t think they’ll even try enforcing leash laws.

  5. Jim says:

    There’s a difference between having a well mannered dog of the leash and letting your dog run wild and do whatever he wants.

    I go to the Wissahickon with my dog all of the time and he is always off the leash and will always be off the leash. He is not allowed to run up to other people or other dogs. He knows this. If we’re at a tight spot or there are cyclists or other people, I’ll hold him and we’ll calmly wait for them to go by. He almost never acknowledges others, so I do this because I know not all people are comfortable with dogs.

    Frankly, I’m responsible for my own dog, not “other dog people”. Encountering out of control and unleashed dogs or stepping in a pile of dog poop actually upsets me too. I love dogs, but if I had a situation like you did, I would become completely enraged. That behavior by that dog owner is completely irresponsible, selfish, and inexcusable. However, I’d also bet she’s also as selfish and un-self aware in non-canine areas of her life.

    I’m as sick and tired as everyone else about people who cannot live up to their responsibilities, whether it’s swerving in and out of traffic on the Schuylkill, throwing their trash in the Wissahickon, or letting their animals run wild. However, they’re not a reflection on me or others who DO care about their actions. So if someone wants to get upset about my well mannered, off-leash dog, just because he’s off-leash, they’re welcome to do so. Just don’t expect me to care.

    Yes we all actually DO break laws- but there’s a huge difference between rolling through a stop sign where you can nothing is coming and blowing through one without regard. Sounds like you got the canine equivalent of that.

    At any rate, I hope you are able to continue enjoying the Wissahickon frequently. In my experience, which there are inconsiderate jerks like the people you described (the park trashers, the dog owner) they are the exception rather than the rule. It’s a phenomenal and safe place, and you sound like exactly the type of person who actually cares about the park.

    1. Dan P. says:

      By way of analogy, allowing your dog to be off leash because he is well mannered and highly unlikely to be aggressive or otherwise bothersome is very similar to saying you don’t wear a seatbelt when you drive because you are an excellent driver. One wears a seatbelt because there are so many crappy drivers out there. Notwithstanding the fact that it is the law, you keep your dog on a leash to protect the dog from other dangers, not JUST to protect others from your dog. I don’t expect you to care but I hope nothing bad ever happens to your dog that could have been prevented by just following the same rules that apply to everyone.

    2. Chris says:

      However, you’re setting a precedent. People see you with your dog off the leash and believe that they can control a situation similar to yours as well. It encourages others to try the same, or to continue doing so.

      Lead by example.

    3. Raymondo says:

      You state & I am paraphrasing for brevity’s sake, “I’m as sick and tired as everyone else about people who cannot live up to their responsibilities, whether it’s swerving in and out of traffic … or letting their animals run wild. However, they’re not a reflection on me or others who DO care about their actions. So if someone wants to get upset about my well mannered, off-leash dog, just because he’s off-leash, they’re welcome to do so. Just don’t expect me to care.”

      Your first sentence says you are sick and tired of people who cannot live up to their responsibilities. Your final sentence says you don’t care about your responsibility. Obeying the leash law is your responsibility. You don’t get to pick and choose which laws pertain to you and which laws don’t. Man up and leash your dog. You are giving good dog owners a bad name.

      1. jeanne says:

        yes, yes and yes. ALL dogs off leash are illegal and a huge problem. Not just all the other ones except yours.

        1. Jim says:

          I see your point about how my off leash dog is not bothering anybody being a “huge problem”.

          I guess you always obey all laws no matter what? Because if you don’t, then you are part of a huge problem.

          1. NuclearFamily says:

            Do you think that walk out the door thinking “I’m going to allow my off leash dog to maul someone or something today”? Or is it usually unexpected and an accident when it happens?

    4. Michael Penn says:

      Maybe it’s time to starting walking the park more and photographing the violators. Then posting the photos all over the internet.

      1. Jim says:

        Look for me Michael, I will happily pose for you and I will use my camera to take a picture of you taking a picture of me and we’ll see which one gets the most likes!

        1. Michael Penn says:

          I doubt you would even see me coming.

          1. Jim says:

            No way, I move about the park like a ninja!

          2. Caleb says:

            Jim, you’re the man. Thank you for being honest and caring about the CULTURE of the Wissahickon. My dog gets more joy out of 1 hour at the park than these whiners get in a lifetime. What a terrible article this was. It really discredited HiddenCity as a culturally aware website. You can’t change everything that bothers you, Bradley. Thank you for picking up the trash but keep your fears to yourself, you pansy.

    5. J Coleman says:

      As I continue to ponder this and read other comments, I have to agree that off-leash dogs themselves are at risk. I don’t condone violence in any way, shape or form and get enraged at the thought of harm coming to an animal, but anyone that lives in Philadelphia knows there are nut jobs out there that target animals, set cats on fire, etc, and it seems reckless to me that a dog owner would put their pet at risk. I’m curious how owners like yourself that let their dogs roam free would perceive things after finding out their dog suffered a swift kick to the throat (or worse, a stun gun attack like mentioned below) by someone who was threatened or frightened by a aimlessly wandering dog.

      At the end of the day, it all comes down to being respectful, just being decent and respectful of those around you.

    6. JS1056 says:

      Well…. To tell you the truth this is no comfort. I don’t know that your dog is ok. Only you believe that and I am unnerved to have to guess. Good for you that you take responsibility for your dog. But really, I’m still unnerved.

    7. Brian Loftus says:


      You are so arrogant that you think laws apply only to others not yourself. Having your dog on a leash is the law and you break it everytime you enter the Wissahickon whether you get ticketed or not. Also rolling through stop signs is bullshit. I live in Chestnut Hill and my property is right against the park and right next to the access to the park on Crefeld Street. Daily, dog walkers that drive to that access point and park let their dogs off leash who end up running into my yard, my property, and often times have run ins with my German Shepard who is only off leash when in my yard. When I walk her in the park, she is always on leash. And the stop signs at Crefeld and Norman and my driveway are constantly run which is very distressing as I have two young kids.

      You state that you are responsible for your dog but you are not unless your dog is leashed.

      1. Jim says:

        Brian, I don’t walk in your neighborhood and my dog does not run out of control. That’s the entire point. But I will continue enjoying our unleashed Wissahickon walks despite the outrage. This weekend is supposed to be nice, no?

        1. Brian Loftus says:


          You claim to walk in the Wissahickon which is for all of us to use. Your dog being off leash poses another problem to the dog walkers who leash their dogs. Your dog automatically has a position of dominance over a leashed dog. Even the playing field and leash your dog and start abiding by the rules. Also stop rolling through stop signs before you hurt someone.

          1. Jim says:

            Hey Brian, I enjoyed the Wissahickon with my off-leash dog this weekend, and he didn’t even maul anybody.

            Which was weird, because I expected that since I am an arrogant and unproductive member of society (But hey– not a hypocrite like some on here) the park was going to implode the moment we stepped foot and paw.

            Hope you had a truly wonderful weekend!

  6. katie says:

    I was agreeing with you enough. I have an equal number of and love for cats and dogs. I am not a fan of unleashed dogs running at me or my dogs. But comparing anything that happened when dogs might have growled at you for a second (or vocalized in another way you didn’t understand) to what happened at Pennypack took away any credit you might have had. That was a violent encounter with a very sick individual. And then paraphrasing known Vick fan and dog hater Chris Rock is like the nail in the coffin (or the knife in the neck of that dog in Pennypack, from that thing that you so understand). Good luck with your trash. I WANT to like self-proclaimed cat people, but you just spoiled the bunch (or would have if I was similarly narrowminded and generalizing).

    1. Bradley Maule says:

      I can assure you Katie, those two dogs growled and barked at me for far longer than “a second” — this incident lasted a good five minutes, and right up close. The Pennypack Park episode is obviously extreme and tragic, but surely you see that it stems wholly from this very problem: that people aren’t leashing their dogs when that is the law. And things like this are among the reasons why it’s the law.

      The Chris Rock bit is from his famous show on HBO nearly 20 years ago. I had no idea that he supported Michael Vick. Vick, obviously, is a monster.

      1. Michael Penn says:

        I agree with everything Bradley said. As for Jim, no matter how well behaved your dog is you’re still part of the problem.

        1. Jim says:

          And what part of the “problem” am I Michael? The problem where people are considerate of others? The problem of well behaved dogs being in control of their humans?

          Or do you know my dog better than I do? Contrary to some opinions, “dog people” don’t all believe that their dogs are sweet, precious babies who should be accepted as they are by all people at all times.

          My last dog was incapable of being off leash. I ran with her and played with her in the Wissahickon, but kept her always on leash for everybody’s sake- hers included.

          My current dog does not pose a problem off leash and will continue being allowed off leash. After many, many years of volunteering and advocating for this amazing park, and despite the snap judgement you seem to be capable of making of me as being “part of problem” I can assure you that I have been and will continue to be an asset to the Wissahickon.

          And if I ever have another dog who I feel I cannot trust, even a little bit, off the leash, that dog will remain leashed. Not because you think I’m a “problem” but because it is the right and considerate thing to do.

          1. MDS Chill says:

            No off-leash dog is fully under the control of its owner, no matter what that owner might think. This is one of the things that off-leash dog owners refuse to listen to.

          2. George says:

            That’s just the thing, you’re not being considerate to others for the simple fact that you do let your dog off-leash. How do I know your dog is one of the “good ones”? Also, how do you know that your dog will not have a reaction to something or someone that it never has before?

            You can stick to the “I’ll do what I want” mantra, but it’s your fault if your dog gets harmed by another animal or person that doesn’t like it in close proximity to them.

            I takes just a little bit of empathy, that’s all.

          3. Brian Loftus says:

            Jim you are arrogant. You break the law. Start behaving like a productive member of society and abide by the rules. Every dog owner that lets their dog run off leash in the Wissahickon that enters the park on Crefeld has their dog uncontrollably run into my yard on my property. I’m sure yours would too!

      2. Michael Penn says:

        Bradley it might be time for a facebook book group or page.

  7. Rebecca says:

    Amen! I am a dog owner and it is a huge pet peeve of mine to encounter off-leash dogs. Part of owning a dog is following the laws pertaining to them, and this includes keeping them on leash of 6 feet or less and picking up their waste and disposing of it properly. To the irresponsible, inconsiderate dog owners out there: Don’t ruin it for the rest of us! In a little pocket of the park, dogs have actually been banned because a couple of my neighbors let their dogs go off-leash there and used the soccer field as a bathroom.

    As much as we love our dogs, it is important to remember that other people don’t. One of my neighbors told me right away that she was afraid of dogs. Noted. My dog hasn’t ever been within 20 feet of her, and I always make sure that my dog is right at my hip if my neighbor is outside.

    Besides it being the law, I keep my dog safe by keeping her on-leash. I don’t want her to get run over by a bicycle, trampled by a panicking horse, kicked by a deer, bitten by a raccoon, etc. Keeping her within 6 feet of me, under my control at all times, keeps her safe.

    I live right along the beautiful trails of the Wissahickon, and because of off-leash dogs, I have found myself in more than one dangerous situation, both for me and for my dog. While I was training my dog, she had a choke collar, but I had to stop using it because it was too dangerous for her to be so restrained around dogs that were loose.

    Nothing makes my heart happier than seeing my dog run around free — that’s why I take her to the dog park in Fitler Sq. We have a blast there. Someday I hope that I’ll have a big, fenced-in backyard for her to enjoy. But all the same, we enjoy Philadelphia very much, and on-leash.

  8. Paul Boni says:

    It’s also dangerous to the unleashed dog. Even the best trained dog can get startled and run into traffic. But the bottom line is, it’s the law. The “oh-but-my-dog-is-different” excuse comes only from selfish people.

  9. Delia says:

    I once had two off leash dogs run towards me growling in the park while their owner screamed “They’re not friendly.”

    Perhaps it is the owners who need leashes.

    1. joe says:

      i had a very similar thing happen to me at work once. i work construction, while doing a street repair job once i had what was obviously a fighting pit bull charge me, it stopped and growled less than 15 feet away when its owner yelled. i am a concealed carry permit holder and like think that i’m a responsible citizen; if the dog had come any closer he would have been killed.

  10. LS says:

    A cheap stun gun works wonders in these situations.

  11. dale says:

    As a responsible dog owner, this crap really bothers me. Especially the people who think that their dog is perfect, and therefore can be off leash.

    I keep my dogs on leashes, and couldnt tell you how many times an unleashed dog wanders over to them as Im walking them. The owner gives me the “dont worry, my dog is nice” routine. But guess what, mine arent in those situations. I adopted them both (as well as foster one) that were a few years old already… Ive trained them a lot, but they still have their bad tempers. Ive gone to Wissahickon and had to take my dogs home since so many dogs were running around freely.

    Also, I work in animal rescue a lot… you’d be surprised how many dogs that are ‘normally well behaved’ suddenly run away. Keep your dog on a leash. Unless you are at a dog park, or on your own fenced property please.

  12. mike says:

    I used to live near Wissinoming Park and would walk across the street along it to get to Frankford Terminal every work day. I wouldn’t dare walk along the same side of the street unless I wanted to do what I called the “Wissinoming One-Step.” Every morning it was the same story: people would DRIVE their dogs to the park to shit. They would park their vehicles, open the door for the dog(s) to get out, then sit in the car while eating breakfast, reading the paper, smoking etc until the dog(s) wanted back in. God forbid any of them would have to get OUT of the vehicle for, I don’t know, a little exercise, let alone actually to pick up the shit. The dog walkers didn’t care either. One I specifically referred to as “Mister Dog Shit” because he would walk two HUGE mutts along the park every day and didn’t even break stride when one of them let go.

  13. Michael Penn says:

    The problem of thinking you’re somehow smarter, above the law or ignorant of how other people feel

    1. Jim says:

      Michael, I do submit that I am “smarter” than you regarding *my* dog and *my* routine. What’s ignorant- and arrogant- is assuming that all dog owners are a single type of person.

      But think whatever you want, because I’m not changing a single thing. Some of you are completely unreasonable, and as there’s no pleasing everybody all the time, well, I guess I’ll just have to not worry about it.

      1. Brian Loftus says:

        There aren’t a single type of dog owners. There are two types, the type that abide by the laws and don’t infringe on anyone elses freedom to use the park and the types that are Jim, the unreasonable people, that insist on blindly accepting how perfect their dogs are and exerteing their dogs rights to roam free.

        1. really? or did I miss your sarcasm hashtag? says:

          Just like there are two types of people in the city, legal and illegal. And by illegal I mean, they break the law, like by speeding. Oop, guess that makes all of us illegals!

  14. steve says:

    “The law states that dogs within Wissahickon Valley Park must be on a leash no greater than six feet. ”

    This isn’t just park or even a city law – this is a Pennsylvania State law.

  15. Brad says:

    So , let me see… it’s ok for the author to break the rules, but not others. Yup, that’s what I read. Ok, Got it, thanks.

  16. LH says:

    A can of wasp spray works well. The spray goes 8 feet and can be a directed stream. Just sayin’ that when I’m on my horse and your dog is off leash it might not be a pleasant encounter. Bradley, you might want to consider carrying a can with you.

    1. Mukk says:

      Is your horse on a leash?

      1. LH says:

        Yup, always under control even when unaware joggers, cyclists and others pass within inches of my horses rear.

      2. Cara says:

        Yes, horses are on leash and under control of their rider.
        Horses are required to be bridled and saddled or in halter or harness when out in public. This is comparable to being on leash. Riders are also required to have a permit to ride horses on the trails in the Wissahickon.
        So, if you see a horse wondering around without a rider in the Wissahickon, call 911. The horse has probably been attacked by a an unleashed dog that ran into the paddocks at the stables or is actually being chased back to the stables after being mauled by a dog running at large. It has happened many times.

        1. Tony says:

          Just out of curiosity, are horse riders required to pick up after their horses the same way dog owners are? I ask as an honest question, not trying to make any kind of point either way.

          1. Cara says:

            It is certainly a valid question. According to the City of Philadelphia Animal Control Ordinance, horse manure does not have to be removed as does dog feces. I know people think that is not “fair” but it is due to the nature of horse manure and the fact that is useful as fertilizer. People still come to the stables to get manure for their gardens. Dog feces are not useful due to the health hazards involved in the carnivore digestive process. Many diseases are carried by dog feces according to the Department of Health.
            In case dog owners do not realize it, the “pooper scooper law” was enacted in the mid 1980’s due to the efforts of a mother whose children came down with a disease from dog feces in Rittenhouse Square.
            When we had Mounted Police, no one questioned horse manure in the park. There were twice as many horses in the Wissahickon as there are now. And twice as much manure. The city used to collect it to distribute to city gardens.

  17. Jocelyn says:

    I’m wondering what can be done about it. I wish someone would start some kind of effective initiative. It is a daily issue for me as I live *in* the park. Dogs run all around my house, upsetting my dogs and peeing/pooping everywhere. When the chickens move outside then the attacks will start. I’ve been in many dangerous situations with loose dogs when on horseback. I witnessed a dog jump into the frozen creek and almost drown and die of hypothermia a couple of months ago. No one enforces the leash law. FOW volunteers and Trail Ambassadors have no power. What do we do?!

    1. red dog says:

      isn’t it against the law to keep life chickens in the city, you must be a bad person

  18. themajor says:

    I guess it must be my love of dogs that I have never had an issue with off leash dogs. I do run my dogs off leash but that is when I am hunting with them in a very rural area but when I in a more urban setting always on the leash. I used to say I would do it so they wouldn’t run away, but I suppose I should also do it since jerks want to spray dogs with wasp spray and stun guns. If people want to run their dogs off leash there are plenty of state forests and game land a relatively short drive away that they could go on their day off that are basically deserted outside of hunting season.

    1. greg says:

      honest question, where

      1. themajor says:

        Closest would be either land adjacent to both Evansburg and Nockamixon State Parks (45 minutes). There is the Delaware State Forrest and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (1.5 Hours). While these places were created for specific uses most land is available for public use and contain walking trails and primitive campsites that are all free. The states website for each agency has more detailed maps so you can locate the exact locations. I would also check what is in season for hunting. Avoid deer and turkey season.

  19. Steve says:

    Seems like dog owners in Wissahickon are like drivers in South Philly — Why should the rules apply to me?

  20. cladia raab says:

    My neighbor’s PERFECT, friendly, calm 5 year old dog, who they believe they know the way you know your dog, just bit a visitor so badly in the face that she needed plastic surgery. DOGS ARE NOT HUMANS. You never really know 100% what a dog will do!Dogs do not have rights, keep them leashed!

    1. Davis says:

      I trust dogs more than I trust humans – do you seriously “know 100%” what humans will do?

      But the law is the law.

  21. KC says:

    This isn’t just an issue in the city. I regularly ride my bike on the Delaware Canal trail north of New Hope and the Barnegat trail in New Jersey and constantly see dogs off leash. Even in these areas where the police and park rangers would seem to have more time to enforce the leash law nothing is done.

  22. nfff says:

    I had this happen to me multiple times. Owners usually tell me that they wont hurt me and that they just want to be petted. In the mean while they are growling and ready to attract. Dog owners in this city are pretty selfish. They remind me of bike riders. Who think that they own the roads and sidewalks.

    1. Jim says:

      As somebody who commutes to work on a bike AND own a dog, I have the feeling that you would not like me. But I’m here to tell you, relax!

      There are a million + people in the city and some of them are going to inevitably use “your” roads and “your” park.

      Have you considered moving to, say, Saskatchewan? There may be fewer selfish people getting in “your” way.

  23. RJ says:

    Oh Jesus, take the pucker out of your ass. I stepped in horse crap the last time I was there maybe we should ban them, and the kids swimming, and the bikers that ride to fast, and girls that like to sunbathe, and smokers, and people that play music to loudly, and rambunctious children. How about people that go off trail for any reason even if they think it is holier than thou. We will have a nice park with no one in it.

    1. outnabout says:


  24. Jack says:

    This is a tough one. I am a dog person and I routinely walk my dogs off leash in the Wissahickon. Where I walk them is an area where many people routinely walk their dogs off leash. Yes, I understand that it is against the law. I choose to ignore that law as do many other people. It is unfortunate that Bradley was threatened by those other dogs. That is wrong. On the other hand, I’ve found every single dog owner in the area that I walk my dogs to be responsible and to leash their dogs upon request. I’ve only walked my dogs off leash in one area of the park and and I believe it is understood that people walk their dogs off leash in that area. The park is huge and that area can be avoided for those people who don’t like dogs. I do find some of the reactions silly and some dangerous. Spraying hornet spray at a dog? That’s dangerous, toxic and potentially harmful. Lumping bike riders and dog walkers? I’ve found 94% of bike riders courteous and respectful and they share the road pleasantly. Disturbing wildlife? C’mon – there are coyotes in that park. They not only disturb wildlife but eat as many embers of that community as possible. Al those softball and frisbee players really disturb the wildlife – should they be banned? There are many things I do not like and I avoid doing those things. I understand some people don’t like dogs and that some of those people love the Wissahickon, which I believe is one of the most beautiful places on the plant. I’d suggest that people who dislike dogs and who love the Wissahickon avoid those areas where dogs are off leash. The park is huge, huge enough to be shared by all of us with different tastes. I’d also suggest that we all avoid this rush to judgement – those who walk their dogs off leash are awful people who break laws and should be sprayed with bug spray or stun gunned? It’s silly and stupid. As RJ said, take the pucker out of your asses.

  25. Bradley Maule says:

    Just so we’re clear, I do NOT advocate for the removal of dogs from the Wissahickon. (Nor for spraying them with an insect repellent.) And honestly, given that the park covers 1800 acres, I think it’s unfortunate that there isn’t a dedicated off-leash dog area, even a really big one. Even though it too is against the law, I’m actually okay with “Doggy Beach” near Kitchens Lane bridge.

    But, in sheer numbers, there are FAR more dogs off-leash in the park than those on-leash. I totaled up the numbers from the first 14 weeks of the project, and those numbers are: 33 dogs on-leash, 105 dogs off-leash. That means that 31% of people are doing the right thing.

    Of those 105 off-leash dogs, there has been exactly one incident (with 2 dogs). That’s one more than I, or anyone, wants to experience.

    1. Jack says:

      I just walked in the woods for 50 minutes. I saw 5 dog walkers with 10 or 12 dogs, all off leash, and one walker, who greeted my dogs but they were too interested in running around to pay any attention. I saw one fisherman and I could have walked a saber tooth tiger along that creek and he wouldn’t have noticed because he was intent on getting a farm raised trout.

      Some laws are silly and some laws aren’t enforceable. I believe this is one of those laws. And, I guess I think basing this argument on “it’s against the law” is just silly.

      Now, I do believe we all must respect each other and respect each others wishes. The owner of those dogs was wrong. Period. On behalf of that woman, I apologize. To suggest that all dog owners must walk their dogs on a leash in every single part of those 1800 acres because of what happened to you or a horse rider or because squirrels are chased … well, I think that is wrong.

      Law or no law, I will continue to let my dogs run off their leash. I am breaking the law but I am causing no harm to anyone or any living being. I’m OK with that.

      1. Mike (solid masculine name to disguise my true gender) says:

        I think this is a reasonable point about the law being unenforceable. Perhaps it really exists so that when some unleashed dog does something horrible, the owner will be held liable.

        So dog-owners know they are taking a risk when they walk their dog off leash, just like drivers know they are taking a risk when the roll through a stop sign or just quickly check the directions on their cell phone while they are driving or speed because (this is my excuse) “the speed limit was set when cars were not as well designed as they are today.” or whatever.

        PS Jack and Jim – super brave of you to say “hey, I do this” in a forum that is clearly anti-“this”

  26. Mukk says:

    I don’t walk my dog in Philly – she lives in NJ.
    She does walk off leash, has done for 14 years, around the lake where we live.
    She sits herself when she sees other dogs, and is clipped to my belt leash.
    She will sit on command – I don’t trust other people to behave correctly around dogs so for their benefit she is leashed when children, drunks and rowdy teenagers are around – although most often children do ask before approaching and petting her.
    I work in Philly, I take the train in and walk to work – I can GUARANTEE that at least once a week when I use a traffic-light controlled crossing that some knuckle headed bike rider will blast through without a care for those in the cross walk. I’m also a bike rider, but I’m English so I always stop at red lights.
    Tarring everyone with one brush for an isolated incident is only justified if you can pledge to me you’ve never driven over the speed limit, or never run a red light on your bike…

  27. Tree says:

    Thank you for this article, I have a 4 year old that really enjoys walking in the wissahickon. So many times, we have been busy doing fun things like skipping rocks, examining bugs and the like, only to be suddenly surrounded by dogs running up to us quite quickly. This has sort of traumatized my kid. It sucks. Dog owners are very selfish and quite clueless and even downright rude when I try to explain to them how this can affect kids that don’t live with dogs. It happens constantly. The owners eventually catch up, smiling like “oh, isn’t that cute!”. No, it’s not and I wish more was done about it.

  28. claudia raab says:

    Problem is, I’ll have to worry about IT and YOU and your DOG every time I walk in the park to relax which I have been doing for 30 years. How do you, Jim, feel I should defend my 63 year old self from a dog who is threatening? I am afraid of off leash dogs! Does that mean I have to stop walking in my beloved park because you believe you have the right to walk your dog,illegally off a leash?

  29. Mort Dawson says:

    It’s a good bet that every dog owner who lets his/her dog run off leash feels the same way Jim does. My dog’s well-behaved, never growls, never bits, never makes anyone else feel the least bit uncomfortable.

    There is much I can say to people like Jim, but I won’t. He is not interested in how other people feel. People like him never are. His comments on this post prove that.

    So I will continue to enjoy our beloved Wissahickon with my young kids but I won’t ever be completely at ease. Vigilance is necessary anyway: too many coconuts and yo-yos in this town. But vigilance is also necessary because of guys like Jim and the woman Bradley encountered and the countless others like them. It’s not their dog’s fault. It’s their fault.

    By the way, excellent piece Bradley – thank you for writing it.

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Mort!

      You write,

      “There is much I can say to people like Jim, but I won’t. He is not interested in how other people feel. People like him never are.”

      Yet you don’t seem to care about how I feel. You completely ignore ALL of the parts of all of my posts where I related how my unleashed dog does not disturb others, and immediately equate him with wild, out of control dogs.

      Does this sound logical to you?

      Tell me Mort, have you ever disregarded a minor law because you felt like you were safe doing it? Have you ever felt that foot get a little heavy on the turnpike and looked down and found you were going over 65? I’ll bet you have.

      Did you automatically equate that behavior with the “coconuts and yo-yos” we’ve all seen in this town driving like they are trying to escape a zombie apocalypse? I’ll bet you didn’t.

      I guess we all need to be vigilant for people like Mort out on those roadways.

  30. Wes says:

    This unnerves me to no end! One thing that sucks is that the good people who leash their dogs have the most well behaved dogs, because they’re GOOD DOG PEOPLE who know they’re required to leash their dogs.

    A woman in my apartment building let her Rottweiler out the door and it ran straight for me, barking, growling, and jumping up on me. I’m tall, and the dog still came up to my shoulders. She immediately announced the thing all BAD DOG PEOPLE love to spout: “Oh he’s sweet! Don’t worry!” And like all BAD DOG PEOPLE, she completely acted like it was all my fault. It’s never their fault, not just because they’re bad dog people but because they’re BAD PEOPLE.

    All dogs are sweet to SOME PEOPLE, and all dogs are nasty monsters to SOME PEOPLE. That’s why there are leash laws. A-holes.

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Wes,

      Because you have one out of context anecdote about some story where some dog looked at you funny doesn’t mean a single thing.

      Some, like Brian Loftus, call me arrogant, but I’m not the one coming on here and calling people names and telling them that they are reckless even though they know literally nothing about me or my dog.

      Or telling me how I should always blindly follow an admittedly minor law when every single one of them have gone a little too fast on the turnpike or failed to come to an absolute stop at a stop sign.

      I have had dogs who have not been allowed off leash in the Wissahickon because they couldn’t be trusted, as sweet as they were. This one can, and we’ll continue using the park as we’ve always used it. And despite the outrage, the dire predictions, and the invective, like always, he will continue not causing a single problem, because like me, he’s not interested in you.

      See you in the park!

  31. Speedbump says:

    Rules are established and laws are coded not to punish anyone but to maintain order and to keep the peace. Some folks simply don’t get it and others are narcissistic and arrogant and believe that they are exempt to all. We’re dog owners and walk our Rhodesian Ridgeback on a leash everywhere! That way everyone is at peace and conflict is avoided. It should be a no-brainer.

  32. Dan says:

    I can recall instances where I’ve been deathly afraid of dogs–the kind with wild looks in their eyes and no handlers in sight. One summer while I was hiking around an off-the-path area of St. Croix, I encountered a pair of wild dogs that gave me a jolt. It was getting dark and these huge dogs descended on my path and started growling. I’d somehow crossed an invisible line. I stood my ground and they went away, but then they began to follow me. Yikes! I was scared shitless. So I grabbed a big thorny stick and brandished it and the dogs finally took pity on my citified ass.

    But tame, domesticated dogs? Unless they’ve been trained to kill or protect their master’s property, you have very little to worry about. Call me crazy, but I’m glad Fairmount Park has its wild side. I’m glad that the kids have the fortitude to swim in the creek, despite its redolent scent, and that the Rosicrucian tomb attracts occultist weirdos. The impulse to treat a huge park like Fairmount like an Enlightenment-era garden and enforce every law on the books is just too precious, and thankfully, owing to its size, unrealistic.

  33. Jane PA says:

    Thank you! Dogs off leash in the Wiss have jumped on me with paws on my chest, growled at me, run up to 4-year old scaring us both (and her long-term, now she’s really afraid of dogs) and stood in a group barking at me (there were three). Yes, some are well behaved. But I’ve heard plenty of owners calling their dogs again and again, the dogs not listening the first time. Or the second. Or the third.

    I don’t care how well-behaved you think your dog is, please keep your dogs on leash in the park. I have a dog too – I know how wonderful it would be for her to run freely. But now I can’t even bring her to the park on-leash because there are so many off-leash dogs that could run up to her. She can’t see well and can be aggressive if surprised. Now it’s nearly impossible to go to the park without someone’s off-leash dog running up to her.

  34. Meg says:

    My husband was bitten by a dog who was off leash and in very close proximity to his owner. I wasn’t there, so I can’t describe the situation in more detail than that. Dogs are animals no matter how well trained, so you are taking a risk by letting them off leash.
    This dog owner didn’t have any ID or his cell phone with him, and my husband didn’t have his cell phone with him either (a mistake he has since remedied on future trail runs.) The dog owner also didn’t apologize or try to help my husband, who was bleeding and 2 miles away from his car. If you are going to let your dog go off leash (just don’t do it) and it bites someone, take responsibility and don’t be a shady a-hole.

  35. Sandy says:

    I am afraid of dogs so it seems I can’t even walk the park. Thank you to all the unleashed dog owners.

  36. Nick says:

    I am sorry. The only thing I read is an onbiously bored,
    Self righteous person who is better suited to be a hall monitor
    Than an author.

    If an adult wants to make the ADULT decision to let their dogs
    Off lead, so be it. Its a park. If you don’t like it, stay home with your cat.

    There are two types of people in the world. The ones that see problems
    And the ones that see solutions. How can all be happy? Forget law. It is meant
    To serve us, not the other way around.

    Instead of bickering on a blog or increasing your self importance one piece of
    Litter at a time, remember this:

    Live and let live.
    No harm, no foul.
    You are just a (hu)man.

    1. Jtebbel says:

      Where is there a dog park nearby where we can legally take our dogs to run? How about a section of the park being fenced off so that the dogs can run without leash, but not able to bother non-dog owners? I’m not going to drive 15 minutes out to the Cheltenham dog park or try to park near Pretzel Park in Manayunk when I live near Fairmount Park. Can FOW or the Park Commission actually propose a solution rather than endlessly complaining?

  37. Chris says:

    Enforcement of the leash law is sorely needed. I’m a frequent user of the Wissahickon and have had my share of bad experiences with off-leash dogs. What’s most startling is the indifference shown by many owners when the dog does something harmful and a request to leash it is made. My own experiences have ranged from a dog leaping at me to “playfully” bite my arm to an over excitable one knocking my four-year to the ground. I can always predict the owner’s response: one of entitlement and privilege, and never an apology.

  38. Kaitlyn says:

    While I can see the validity in this argument, I can not help but laugh at very dramatic pettiness with which this article was written. I’m curious, are those who fear encountering an off-leash domestic dog unaware that many, many wild animals roam these woods everyday without a leash? If you are so fearful of a curious dog, perhaps you should stick to activities with a lesser chance of encountering animal life – wild or domestic – in general.

  39. concernedwriter says:

    I live next to the Wiss and can no longer walk my 2 dogs there on leash because of the off leash dogs who charge, circle, and often growl at us as their owners saunter up — clearly acting like they own the trail/park.

    I’m so frustrated by this sense of entitlement, which seems all out of proportion to the veneer of community the surrounding progressive neighborhoods espouse.

    BUT — I think the most egregious aspect of their behavior isn’t its illegality but its irrational anthropomorphizing. Dogs like to run, sure, but to imbue that fact with the concept of freedom is nonsense. We domesticated them and they like it, apparently.

    If you let your dog off leash in the Wiss, we don’t think you’re a dashing individualist freedom fighter, but a nitwit who mistakes burping for cognition. And one who probably can’t keep friends long since you’re so self centered.

  40. Chris Christakis says:

    Glorious suburbs. We only have nice people and nice dogs out here. No trash, no hipsters, no growling dogs. Get like me.

    Also, who’s afraid of two medium sized, domesticated dogs? Just hit them with the stick if they’re mouthing off and you’re too much of a wuss to act normal and rub their bellies. Most non-attack dogs are all bark and no bite, they’re just trying to act like they aren’t.

    1. Cara says:

      Wow, who is afraid of two medium sized dogs?
      Anybody who has had to fight off dogs with their pocketbook or found themselves having to grab stones or a good size stick for their protection. If you have just recently had a hip or knee replacement and two dogs that are “just playing” run into you and knock you flat, it could mean another two months of rehab or more surgery. The dog owner would tell you to stay out of the park if you don’t like dogs jumping on you because their dogs have the right to run at large.
      As for “non attack dogs”, how do you know that an aggressive dog is all bark and no bite? Dogs have been known to attack and bit without warning. How do you rub the belly of a dog that is snapping and growling at you when saying “nice dog” doesn’t get a good response?
      I have encountered dog owners who say no one has ever been hurt by dogs off leash in the Wissahickon. They say that the people who claim that their dogs on leash have been attacked or that people have been bitten or horses mauled are just lying. They say that only cute, sweet little puppies are allowed to run off leash. They say that no one who has a large dog or one that has previously been a problem would let their dog run free.
      Instead, when these people have an encounter with a park user, they claim it is the not their dogs’ fault. Their dog was provoked. I’m sure the woman who dogs attacked the blogger would say that he should not have been carrying a stick or back pack or riding a horse or been afraid of dogs or that a leashed dog was submissive and that is why their dog “reacted”. I once witnessed a dog poking it’s nose up a young girl’s dress and the dog owner told her to stay home if it was her time of the month. I have been told by a dog owner that as long as a dog doesn’t tear flesh from your bones, there is nothing you can do when you have an encounter with an unleashed dog.
      These dog owners want you to believe that other park users are powerless so that they can continue to pick and choose what laws to obey and where they want to obey them.
      As far as why don’t they have dog parks in the Wissahickon, it is simply a matter of “why buy a cow when you can get your milk for free”. These dog owners feel that anywhere they want their dogs to run is fair game and it is up to everybody else to avoid them. There is nowhere you can go and know that you will not encounter an unleashed dog in the Wissahickon. If the law is not enforced, there is no reason for dog owners to control their dogs. Everybody else is at their mercy.

  41. Dan says:

    I’m with you Jim 🙂

    I enjoyed this fun discussion immensely! See you in the ‘hickon.

    And what is it with poop-bagger-throwers? That is dangerously odd behavior…

  42. Jan says:

    This is a tiring old rehash of the same discussion but alas, here goes the same old tired reply:

    Without dogs in the park, none of us would feel safe enough to be there. If there were dog owners hanging out in the parking lots then break-ins there would be a thing of the past too.

    State law mandates “reasonable control”, Phila mandates leashes. But 99% of the time, 6′ leashed dogs would FORCE the rare scared people to come in close proximity of dogs on single track trails. Wandering dogs off leash avoids those close proximity confrontations most of the time. And typically, dogs do not act as nicely when leashed.

    The only time a dog becomes curious/scared is when they encounter something out of the ordinary. A painter sitting in the middle of the woods with an easel, a cross country skier with all kinds of gear and poles, or someone off the trails doing whatever. As a dog owner, i anticipate and deal responsibly. But the reality is anxiety on people’s part does make dogs scared and cause them to bark sometimes.

    I work in the park ALL the time, compulsively cutting invasive vines and ivy all over the place. Invariably people with dogs pass and their dogs will come up to me to check me out. Without stopping, i greet the dog/s, act normal, and just keep going and have never run into a problem. And i guarantee i spend countless more hours doing trail and invasive work on a weekly basis and for longer than you have picking up trash for your “art” project. This awful scenario you are painting out there just is not the norm (while not completely discounting some of the alleged encounters above).

    The notion that the fund-drained city and park would divert a penny on enforcement in light of what is needed/useful out there is offensive. A little bit of common sense and willingness to learn how to deal on YOUR part would have prevented this entirely.

    While i applaud anyone picking up trash, i personally wish you would divert some of your energy towards more productive ways to help the park. Perhaps some day this place we all love will have sparkly newly re-routed trails thanks to the FOW and cleared of some of its trash by you and others. But in the end, if people do not pitch in to deal with the vines and other invasives, it’ll look like the sides of the turnpike and no one will venture there.

    Your “open letter” letters are feeling more and more like promotion.

  43. Some readers know we’ve tried very hard to keep the comments on the Hidden City Daily above board: that is focused on the issues at hand and not aimed at each other, or, aimed at our writers and editors. This isn’t always very easy. For one, it takes a great deal of time and attention (why other news outlets don’t do it). And for another, the lines between insult and concern are blurry. We actually have a comments policy, HERE: http://hiddencityphila.org/independent-journalism/. We always try to remind readers and commenters that pretty much everyone here loves Philadelphia and wants the best for it–we’re all in the same boat.

    But we knew with this Soapbox about dogs in the Wissahickon it would be difficult to regulate the comments. Too much heightened emotion. We also knew that some readers would feel this story was beyond our usual editorial territory. Sometimes we have to stretch–and furthermore the Wissahickon is a critical part of this city that we’ve covered consistently and this issue–clearly–matters.

    All that said, there is a difference between arguing a point, even one you feel passionately about, and insulting others, either readers or our writers. Frankly, it’s a little bit pathetic to be calling anyone here names, and only in the end casts the commenter in a negative light. As for the writer of this Soapbox on dogs in the Wissahickon, our co-editor Bradley Maule, no one should doubt his extraordinary commitment to Philadelphia, his love of place, and his dedication to talking freely and intelligently about the issues that matter. –ed.

  44. @RobertThegEnius says:

    Ive been in your shoes before brad. I cant stand irresponsible dog people. I had a similar incident when I was walking my two children (3 & 5) and the “usually most lovable dog” (words of the owner) was showing his teeth and growling at us. I would have killed the animal if I though my kids were going to be bitten but the owner had the good sense to see what i was about to do and grabbed the dogs.

  45. Jody says:

    I’m confused that we’re talking about off-leash dogs here when there is a much bigger issue raised by this article: self-importance. I assume that Nathaniel’s comment is an admittance that there were many more censored comments by folks who instinctively felt the need to shake the author off his high horse. I know I sent one and it was not accepted. So the resulting series of comments in agreement with the author (with the most notable exception of Jan, whose comment is excellent) is hopefully not representative of most Philadelphians’ reaction to this kind of smug pollution. We are just trying to tell the author the same thing those dogs were attempting to communicate…. Dude, what is wrong with you? Can you please chill out?

    1. Actually, we only eliminated comments that were plainly abusive to the writer and to other readers. People on both sides of the issue were given plenty of space to comment. This is clearly an emotional issue, but it’s also one that gets to the heart of what it means to share public space in a big, diverse city. –ed.

      Comments on this article are now closed.

  46. Christof says:

    I just have to comment here having been approached, aggressively, by unleashed dogs 4 times over the past year. I was bitten on the last incident by a dog that the owner said ” oh don’t worry she’s friendly and checking you out”. Next thing I know the dog is lunging at the my back leg giving me a nice puncture. After yelling at this person for 8 minutes and them clearly not caring, it’s now come to me carrying pepper spray when I run.

    People who don’t leash dogs are lazy and make responsible dog owners, like me, look bad. I’m gonna have a hard time using pepper spray on any animal if this happens again but me, and my families safety, are first.

Comments are closed.