The Parks Department has finally formalized rules for allowing pets off-leash in city parks, following a revision of the health code by the Health Dept. to allow free-roaming dogs and a decision from a judge ruling that off-leash dogs were okay. A press release from the Parks Department announcing the change in policy outlined the allowable hours and locations dogs could be unclipped to roam. It also outlines requirements for pet owners to keep their dogs in compliance with the new rules when the policy goes into effect 30 days from today.

Today, the Parks Department announced a change in the rules concerning off-leash dogs in parks. Thirty days from now, the successful “courtesy hours” policy will officially become part of Parks’ rules and regulations. With proof of a current rabies vaccination and license information, owners can allow dogs to run off-leash in certain designated areas from the time the park opens until 9 a.m. and from 9 p.m. until the park closes...

...Beginning May 10, parks will be grouped into four designated categories: 1) No dogs allowed; 2) Dogs must be on-leash at all times; 3) Designated dog run; and 4) Designated off-leash area.

The amended rule will also require all dogs in parks to be licensed and that owners be able to show proof that they have been vaccinated against rabies, as required by New York State and City law.

Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said, "Through a public process, the Parks Department codified the successful, long-standing 'courtesy hours' policy for the benefit of all New Yorkers. We know that a tired dog is a good dog and for the last two decades, this policy has made parks safer and has allowed dog owners to exercise and socialize their pets.”

The full set of regulations can be found at the Parks Department site here, along with the list of designated areas where off-leash hours will be observed (for instances, ballfields, playgrounds, zoos, etc. are out).

(Photo of dogs on a leash by dogseat at flickr)