Pet Owners Stress About Sharp Rocks in Newly Renovated Dog Run

Bull Moose Dog Run.

By A. Campbell

Friends of the Bull Moose Dog Run have encountered a new and unexpected snag. Located along the north side of the American Museum of Natural History, the dog run that reopened in July after a much-needed $683,000 renovation by the NYC Parks and Recreation Department. Based on its history of flooding, a primary objective of the renovation was to ensure the dog run would drain properly during and after rainstorms.

At a recent meeting of the Community Board 7 Parks & Environment Committee, Elaine Boxer, a volunteer who is heavily involved with the dog run community, conveyed feedback she has been receiving from community members who complain that the rice gravel which was installed during the recent renovation is too small and sharp. According to dog owners, dogs playing in the run regularly get gravel pieces caught between their toes which then causes lacerations.

“The surface itself seems to be irritating and perhaps even dangerous to the dogs’ paws,” Boxer said. Boxer shared that in Fall 2019 she had been briefed on the dog run renovations by Steve Simon, Chief of Staff to the Manhattan Borough Commissioner. During their discussion, Simon had asserted that the contractor in charge of the renovations was unable to access pea gravel – the type of landscaping rock which had been used on the dog run prior to the renovation. Boxer noted that both humans and dogs now have trouble navigating the rice gravel due to the depth and sharpness of the rocks. While the rice gravel was successfully tested for its drainage properties, it was never tested for dogs, she noted.

According to Matt Genrich, Parks Supervisor at NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, the Parks Department is aware of the issues about the gravel and is looking into what can be done. While addressing questions about the dog run, Boxer remarked that she has also witnessed more dog owners exercising their dogs on the lawns surrounding the museum rather than within the dog run perimeter. (The lawns are off limits to the public, both dog-owners and non-dog-owners alike.)

“We’ve got this beautiful facility, and you’re breaking the rules, and you’re on the lawn,” Boxer said. “For whatever reason, the lawn is preferable to what we’ve just made.”

Board member Natasha Kazmi concurred with Boxer, saying that she has witnessed a significant increase in the amount of people treading over the lawns around the Museum. “I see it every single day. There are at least eight different dogs in there and they jump over the fence, and I’m just trying to understand why they are there when this brand new dog run is there, and maybe it’s these issues that Elaine is highlighting.” Kazmi inquired whether it would be possible to step up the amount of enforcement from museum security officers or parks department personnel to remind people that the lawns aren’t meant to be used.

In response to questions from the Board, Genrich confirmed that there are signs posted around the lawns noting they are not public. “The lawn is signed,” said Genrich. “It is something that myself and other parks employees regularly ask – for people to get off the lawn – but we can’t always be stationed there. I will say that it’s not only dog owners that I’ve seen on the lawns. There have been people other than dog owners using the lawns when they’ve been signed as closed.”

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 32 comments | permalink
    1. Elizabeth says:

      I use the new dog run for my dogs. The stones are definitely a problem. I think that people gravitate to the lawn mainly because of the stones. Not only does it seem to hurt paws, there is a danger in dogs digesting them while playing. Ingesting rocks can lead to serious complications (and possible death) for dogs.

      I still use the dog park because that is where the dogs should be when off-leash, but I do worry about their paws.

      Please find something else to replace those stones. I think people would gravitate back to the run if they felt it was safe for their dogs.

      Regarding use of the lawn, I don’t personally use it, but during the severest part of COVID it was so nice to see people out there sitting in socially distanced groups enjoying the weather. After all those months of so many people spending time on the lawn, it doesn’t look at all worse for wear. I miss seeing people use it.

      My question is why is the lawn off-limits? It seems silly to have such a nice space when no one is able to use much of the time.

      • Anonymous says:

        In regards to the lawns….YES it was beautiful this year on the lawns and very nice to see the people out and it was very disturbing why the New York City Parks department did not officially open up the area other than their excuse was they don’t have an enforcement team.
        The lawns are meant for the people!!! It is their Park and their tax moneys that pays for that Park.
        Give it back to them! It is a nonsense fencing the people out.
        The New York City Parks department has no concept and far from knowing how to run a city park.

    2. Mark P says:

      Thanks for reporting that the fenced lawns are not open to the public – no different than they were before COVID. I’ve been pretty disappointed that people and their dogs (and from what I’ve seen, it’s mostly that) are on the small triange next to the Nobel monument in increasing numbers. I couldn’t believe how many people and dogs were on it this evening. Far more feet than would be on the same size of space in Central Park.

      Other people doing a thing does not make it okay. And the triangle lawn to my eye is clearly showing the stress of being trampled daily. It will get worse if some people continue to do “what everyone else is doing”. The Great Lawn was a dust bowl before the Conservancy started managing it.

      • Cp says:

        Funny Mark, that people are worried for their living, sentient dogs and all you can do is pity party that they’re using the grass.

    3. Nicholas Heilbut says:

      The entire situation is incredibly pathetic. How can a dog run cost $600k? And then to screw up something as basic as making the ground safe for dogs is beyond the pale. It’s so sad that nothing can be done in New York without excessive costs and 7 uninformed bureaucrats making poor decisions. What a shame.

      • Zac says:

        I don’t know where you get these figures from but the actual figure was $834,000 for this dog run they took one year to complete to date and I saw… which freaked me out was the garbage disposals running at $6000!!!! Someone is not doing their job in the NYC PARKS Department for dropping the ball and not doing research in checking costs on the contractors bid.

    4. UWSer says:

      I confess to visiting the lawn with my small dog a couple of times. I keep him on a leash. We mostly just run around or sit/rest a bit in the sun. The lawn is just so much more pleasant and safe than the actual dog run.

      The dog run stones get stuck in his paws and on throw toys; both are an ingestion risk. Moreover there are gaps under the fencing in the small dog run, where a small dog can easily fit and escape.

      The dog run does not seem designed for dogs 🙁

    5. An UWS dog owner says:

      I too confess to using the fenced lawns for my 12 pound dog, both at Teddy Roosevelt and Central Parks, particularly when all of the dog runs were closed. Off leash hours don’t work for us – before 9 am my dog was cornered by many large dogs on the loose which terrified both of us and frankly after 9 pm is just not safe. If the lawns were made available on an alternating schedule, their beauty could no doubt be maintained. NYC, let’s get practical although I know that is impossible for the officials to understand.

    6. Marilyn says:

      How STUPID can no-bid contractors be? Answer: THIS STUPID!

      Btw, the 105th street run in Riverside Park is in DIRE NEED OF PEA GRAVEL. It’s like the Oklahoma dust bowl in there.

    7. Leo says:

      The renovated dog park is a complete disaster, whenever we’ve tried to take our dog he experiences huge discomfort. It’s no coincidence that it is rarely anywhere near the capacity it was before closing last year. After months of isolation it was sad to see him struggling to interact with other dogs due to such a poor setup. We now take him to the grassy areas just outside where he is like a dog reborn and enjoys chasing after the many dogs who are clearly in the same situation. Agree it’s not how those areas are intended to be used but I also have no shame in using them this way given the alternative (tax funded) is completely unusable, and nearby runs have also been recently taken out of action. SORT IT OUT!

    8. Joe S says:

      We went one time with our goldendoodle and were surprised when he didn’t want to run around, and only jumped up on the bench or large rock we were sitting in. These rocks are awful. We found him licking his left paw in the following days and found a cut as well, but only just pieced the two together!

    9. Anonnie says:

      So sad that we waited so INCREDIBLY long for the dog run to be completed, only to find it cost way too much taxpayer money and it’s not even safe for dogs! WELL DUH NYC PD!!

      Open the lawn for people to use, close it to seed it. Pretty simple.

      While i’m at it, also not enough lawns are open in Central Park and the mean guy who closes them does it way to early or not at all. How about a dog run in Central Park near the northside of the 72nd stone arch off the bridle path in the tree shaded area that has dirt? Mulch can easily be thrown in there and fenced off. People misuse the bridle path with dogs anyway.

      • lynn says:

        What do you mean by misuse the bridle path? Just curious, as I’ve been walking dogs on the bridle path for 30+ years. Or did you mean that dogs shouldn’t be on it?

    10. Debbra says:

      Years ago, we all used the PUBLIC lawns – to sit on, to dream, to read. When the fences were put up, we were told they were temporary. They have never come down. It’s a park. It’s for the people to enjoy in a densely populated neighborhood. The lawns should be available for everyone to enjoy, not fenced off to gaze at from afar

      • A concern park residence says:

        Yes, Debra very true and your right!
        Unfortunately we have some very selfish old neighbors on W. 77th St. and W. 81st St. that despises anyone to walk on the Greengrass!! You pay your taxes you’re in title to. This is a New York City Park for everyone to enjoy and play and to sit on!!! And should not be fenced in to prevent you to have your leisure time to dream.
        Parks are complex elements of a city. They can serve scores of different uses, may be specialized in their function, or can simply provide visual appeal for residents. However they work, they act to define the shape and feel of a city and its neighborhoods. They also function as a conscious tool for revitalization.
        So I say to you good neighbors and city officials. “Tear down these fences“…NYC Parks open these fences the people of New York have every right to enjoy and you have no right to fence taxpayers off the lawns!!!!

        • Matt West 81Street/CPW says:

          To the Concern Park Residence,
          First… You should get into politics!
          Or maybe you are?

          Secondly… You are so correct! There’s no reason why fencing in the Teddy Roosevelt Park can’t be open and enjoyed by all. It is meant for the people, they pay their taxes and that’s what it’s for. To enjoy with your family or to sit on the grass and enjoy a good book or lay down on your blanket and listen to your favorite music.

    11. Concerned West Sider says:

      I overlook the lawns and enjoy their verdant splendor. People who think their dogs should be allowed to run free, tear up the lawn and shrubbery, and harass the birds, squirrels and other animals living in the park are selfish. If your dog needs open space to run, consider moving out of NYC to the suburbs. The parks are for all to enjoy–you and your dogs are already ruining every planted tree pit and garden in the city. Anyone ever heard of “curb your dog”?

      • Erin says:

        I am always disgusted by people who say, if you want a dog or if you want a big family, go to the suburbs. Why can’t NYC be for families and dog owners? There are plenty of respectable dog owners who pick up after their dogs. Dogs are great companions to someone who lives alone, and are great for families. Why do we want to make it so hard to live in the city and chase away families who make the UWS so great?

        If you don’t want dogs tearing up the lawns and chasing squirrels then help us to get a better safe dog run so dogs have a place to run.

    12. Thank you for sharing about your renovated Bull Moose Dog Run in NYC. I am sorry to hear about the sharp rocks that the dog run has. I hope the problem will be fixed soon. Nice picture of the dog run.

    13. Julie says:

      I live across the street from the dog run. There are other reasons not to use it besides the gravel. I hear incessant barking and dog fights from my apartment 11 floors up, even with the windows closed. Many dog walkers take their dogs to the dog run, let them loose and then ignore them while they sit on a bench and look at their phones. I have two dogs and will never take them there.

      • Woof-woof says:

        Julie, I’ve never taken my dogs there especially the old dog run. My vet told me that most of her customers come from that dog run. In the past it’s been so dirty and bacteria. Also there are many aggressive dogs that go there that starts fights with other younger and smaller dogs and gets them all crazy and barking.
        Aggressive dogs should be banned from all dog runs.

    14. cated says:

      It is less the foot traffic ruining the grass and more the dog urine, which burns it dry.
      The surface error in the dog run needs to be corrected, so that people can use that great space for their dogs and not destroy the grassy expanses, which will soon turn into muddy lots, as the older dog run (before it was moved to by the wall) often did.

      • FYI says:

        The museum of natural history shut off the water. Normally watering all the lawns is at 10 PM every night and for some reason NYC Parks cannot figure it out and to gain access to the museum basement to have it repaired or to see what the reason is with the timer that turns on the water and turns it off each night. The water has been shut off since June 2020. We’ve had a dry spell the last few months and that’s why the grass is turning brown not because of the dogs in the triangle lot.

    15. kdiaz says:

      The dog population on the UWS is out of control. Some limit needs to be placed on the number of licenses. Everywhere I go, tons of dogs in my face. The sidewalks are disgusting.

    16. Steevie says:

      This is a very New York story. A small project takes ridiculously long time to complete and is stunningly expensive. Then when it is done, it has to be redone. A private company would be embarrassed and would quickly redo it. The City will take a long time to redo it. And don’t be surprised if is still wrong after they redo it.

    17. Songe says:

      The Bull Moose dog run is dog-unfriendly. My dog limps around in there and can’t run at all. Dogs stand around looking confused which probably indicates fear. It’s very sad. The surface simply has to be replaced to make it a dog run again.

      • lynn says:

        Just out of curiosity, if the anti-Lucerne group could raise thousands of $$$ for a lawyer, couldn’t dog owners raise enough money and create the dog run of their dreams? Or would the city not allow it?

        • FYI says:

          The plan is exactly that. We are going to be raising the money privately and the parks department has to approved it. The draw back is that we have to use an approved contractor by the NYC Parks Department. The next step is passing the information along to each of the contractors to bid on. It’s a three month process. Once that is approved the go ahead by both the dog run organization and the parks department sign off and then scheduling the work and at this point it doesn’t look like once approved and scheduled this project is not going to happen until next summer.

    18. Lauren says:

      This is TERRIBLE! We used to love this dog run. However, since it has been renovated our King Charles comes home with red raw swollen paws and licks them for days, while we have to bath them in salt water. We have even made a vet appointment for him this week. We were scratching our heads as to what could have caused this, and it’s no coincidence that it coincides with every visit we make to this dog run. Very sad to have to avoid this place now. This should be fixed! It is unsafe for animals.