While on patrol last Thursday, Bridgeville Police Chief Chad King kept encountering people who were walking their dogs in the borough’s public parks. Some dogs were leashed, others weren’t.
Three times, in three different parks, King had to remind visitors that pets are prohibited. The signs posted around the parks make that clear.
“That was six dogs in one day,” King said.
King said he’s never actually cited anybody for having a dog in the park; he just asks the owner to remove the animal. But the contining canine encounters made the chief curious about the exact wording of Bridgeville’s no-pets-in-the-parks ordinance.
His research led to a surprising discovery—dogs are allowed in Bridgeville’s parks.
The law governing conduct in borough parks says that: “No person in attendance at a park shall… allow pets to run at large out of control.”
So it appears that Bridgeville’s parks, or at least the park laws, are dog-friendly, even if the animals aren’t leashed (they just can’t be “out of control.”)
The police chief wasn’t the only person surprised by the disconnect between Bridgeville’s dog-free park tradition and the actual written law.
“When I mentioned this to other officers who have been here as long as me—some of them even longer— they were shocked to hear that you are allowed to have dogs in the park,” King said.
Borough manager Lori Collins was also stunned. “We always thought for years that you weren’t allowed [to have dogs in the parks].”
Now, borough councilmembers have to make a decision. Should they revise the law so that pets are legally prohibited, or should Bridgeville remove the no-dogs signs and welcome our four-legged friends?
Taking the latter approach raises questions about leash requirements and ensuring that owners clean up after their pets.
Council will likely review Bridgeville’s park ordinance and address the dog question and any other policy/practice dissonance “in one fell swoop,” said council president Michael Tolmer.