March 25, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
The leader of a local dog group is pleading with canine owners who use Lou Lodati Park dog run to follow social distancing guidelines – or else the run may have to be shut down temporarily.
Rick Duro, the president of Sunnyside United Dogs Society who oversees the dog run, said he has witnessed people not abiding by social distancing guidelines and fears this behavior may lead to the spread of COVID-19.
Duro has asked users to stay a minimum of six feet apart from one another–as recommended by health officials. However, he said, many people are failing to do so and that he may be forced to call on the Parks Dept. to close the run to ensure public safety.
“I watched two people chat for an hour Tuesday and they were less than two feet away from one another,” Duro said. “And they weren’t relatives they were just two people out having a chat.”
Furthermore, too many people are often using the run at any one time, he added, and most people are not wearing gloves or masks.
City parks, playgrounds and dog runs are remaining open at least until Saturday— as long as people adhere to social distancing rules and avoid group sports, Governor Andrew Cuomo said yesterday.
Mayor Bill De Blasio will be making a decision as to whether city parks will remain open on Saturday based on whether people are adhering to the guidelines.
Duro has erected a sign outside the run listing the new rules for the space to help prevent the spread of coronavirus and to keep the run open for as long as possible.
He said that he is limiting the space dedicated to small dogs to a maximum of two people. Meanwhile, the dog run for larger dogs is limited to no more than four people at any one time.
He is also appealing for people to reduce the amount of time they spend in the run and for people to wear gloves and a mask.
Duro, whose advocacy led to the dog run being built in the first place, said the space was conceived under the concept of being for the greater good of the whole community – not just dog owners – and people should keep that idea in mind when using the run.
“What might get you or me sick might get someone else killed,” he said