Over 1,000 sign counterpetition to keep dogs off-leash at Lake Mohegan
FAIRFIELD — An online petition campaign that began April 4 advocating that dogs be kept on-leash at Lake Mohegan in Fairfield prompted reactions from supporters and opponents.
“As a resident of the town, I am strongly against the policy of allowing dogs to be off-leash at this public space,” Aaron M., the author of the April 4 petition wrote. “The quantity of off-leash dogs has greatly detracted from the beauty, enjoyment, and safety of a hiking area ...”
Reaction came quickly, only four days later.
Dabney Bowen began a counter petition that called for off-leash privileges not to be repealed in Fairfield open spaces.
“The Conservation Commission is proposing to repeal the privilege to have dogs off-leash on all town open space properties,” the online site reads. “We are advocating for the privilege to continue off-leash use of these 1,200 acres of open space.”
As of April 11 at around noon, the petition had acquired 1,364 signatures.
“I have a Weimaraner and a German Short Haired pointer dog,” Judy Dubois wrote on the site advocating for off-leash privileges. “Without off-leash running they simply cannot get enough exercise.”
Kevin Gumpper, chairman of the town’s Conservation Commission, said the topic of off-leash privileges at Lake Mohegan and open space regulations has been constantly reviewed and addressed in the past year.
Gumpper added a decision regarding off-leash privileges won’t be made in the next month or so but possibly by the “summer or fall,” with management updates of Lake Mohegan and a study on the Mill River still pending for review.
The first petition, as of April 11, had obtained 202 signatures.
“Words can’t describe how bad this area has become,” Brandon Baranyar said on the site that was in favor of having dogs on a leash. “The place has just become sad and unenjoyable. A waste of once beautiful open space.”
The town website section on the Lake Mohegan Open Space Area notes visitors can bring their dogs, but they can only be taken off their leash after reaching the “100-foot” sign posted on the trail and must be “under voice control at all times.”
According to the town’s rules and regulations for open space areas, “dogs must be leashed at all times, except while on the premises of Jennings Beach only,” where dogs may be off leash “provided they are under the control of the person responsible for them.”