Selectmen in Brookline are considering a plan to charge residents $50 a year to allow their dogs to roam in the town's parks without leashes. "The fee is per dog," the Globe explains, "and anyone who doesn’t live in Brookline would pay $100 a year for the privilege."
So, let's boil down the cases for and against the measure.
The case for it: Dog park usage in Brookline is up. According to an article in Wicked Local, the number of licensed dogs has risen from around 1,500 in 2002 to more than 2,100 this year. To accommodate the growth, Brookline started the Green Dog Program that organizes park cleanup, educational efforts and oversight of the town’s off-leash initiative. The program costs the town about $55,000 a year to operate. For the town, it makes sense that dog owners would be asked to chip in to help pay for the program. Other groups that require some park maintenance, like sports leagues, pay to use the park. Why shouldn't dog owners as well?
Which leads us to the case against it: Dog owners aren't an organized group, so why would they pay fees like a sports team? It would make more sense to compare them to people who use the park for unorganized gatherings, like picnics or Frisbee-tossing. They don't need a permit to use the park. (Although they presumably don't leave behind waste, either.) Dog owners already pay a considerable amount to have pets, and they already pay local taxes so that the government can maintain its parks. Why should they pay more for a service the government is already given funds to provide? The permitting could also cause confusion. What if a dog owner forgets his pass one day? Or what if a dog sitter couldn't find it? Do dogs have to go without their leashless exercise for the day?
What do you think? Vote in the poll below or leave your thoughts in the comments.