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Thursday, October 30, 2014
Few options for letting your dog run free in Rockville Centre
Penny Frondelli/Herald
Judy Lauterstein and her pug, Chicky, take walks at the Hempstead Lake State Park nearly every day to stay healthy and release energy.

One way to keep a dog happy and healthy is to allow it free reign exercise to tire itself out. But for Rockville Centre dog owners, the options are limited, according to Richard Infield, chairman of the Nassau County Committee for the Long Island Dog Owners Group (LI-DOG).

“Basically, dogs need exercise and exercise just like humans,” Infield explained. “They need to be able to run around and let off steam. There’s a saying — a tired dog is a good dog.”

When dogs don’t get the exercise they need, Infield said, they can become aggressive or they may begin to bark loudly and often. One of the best cures is to let dogs run off-leash, because otherwise the dogs can’t get rid of their excess energy. Aside from backyards, though, Nassau County residents and their dogs don’t have much recourse.

“There is no county I know of that has less facility to let dogs walk off-leash,” Infield said. “I’ve known people that come from all over the state and the first thing they do is join us and go, ‘Wow, we had no idea a place like this actually existed.’”

A popular spot for dog-owning Rockville Centre residents is Hempstead Lake State Park, located just off Peninsula Boulevard and near the Southern State Parkway. Though the park plays frequent host to dogs in the area, there are still restrictions.

“The rule of the park is that you have to have dogs on the leash,” Infield said. “People do take them off, but as soon as a park ranger or cop comes along, you’ll quickly see people rush to get their dogs on a leash.”

According to Bill Brown, the park’s manager, New York State’s Department of Park’s and Recreation is not considering allowing a space in the park for unleashed dogs.

“Most of the park is wooded areas, so the areas that are opened are multi use, so people can do things like play soccer,” Brown said. “Limiting the space to one group is not something we want to do.”

Despite the restrictions, Hempstead Lake State Park’s proximity to the village keeps it the top choice on a short list for many residents.

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