Editorial: Unleashed dog packs raise safety concern at Victory Rd. Park
One of our readers from Savin Hill— Erin McNamara— wants the public to know what happened to her and her nine-year-old border collie, Delilah, last Wednesday afternoon in Victory Road Park, an old landfill near the landmark gas tank that has been converted into a lovely, passive waterfront setting that is maintained by the state’s Dept. of Conservation and Recreation.
The park is a popular place for dog-walkers, although Ms. McNamara had never ventured there until last week. As she and Delilah entered the large open field in the park, she observed a group of 20 or so dogs— all off their leashes— running and playing as two women stood nearby. One of the dogs, a “pit-bull mix” that McNamara said was named “Bailey,” quickly accosted McNamara’s dog and — as other dogs joined in— began biting at Delilah’s fur.
McNamara, who is eight months pregnant with her first child, first watched in horror as the “pack attack” unfolded: “At this point I realized that she was about to be disemboweled and I had to do something. I started kicking the dogs as hard as I could and the dog “Bailey” looked up and grabbed my right pant leg. He shook it momentarily and at that point it occurred to me that if I were to fall to the ground my dog, my unborn baby, and myself would be killed.”
According to McNamara, after the initial attack ended and she began caring for her wounded animal, other park-goers helped her shoo away “Bailey,” who continued to harass and nip at her and Delilah.
McNamara has filed a complaint with police and intends to pursue charges because, McNamara claims, one of the women unleashed the principal aggressor— “Bailey”— when she later approached her seeking contact information.
McNamara claims that the dog-walker told her, “It’s an off-leash park, what did you expect?”
Unfortunately, says McNamara, State Police— who have jurisdiction at the park—did not respond to her 911 call from the scene that day. And she got conflicting information from them about whether or not the park was an “off-leash” zone.
The Reporter checked with the DCR, which owns and manages the park, and was told by agency spokesperson S.J. Port that Victory Road Park is definitely not an “off-leash” park.
“The only official off-leash dog park DCR has is the Sheeps Fold Area at the Middlesex Fells. Dogs are allowed at most other DCR facilities as long as they are on leash and no one person can have more than three dogs with them at a time,” Port said.
State Rep. Marty Walsh told the Reporter this week that he has also heard complaints about the park being misused by professional dog walkers before — and he wants to see a crackdown.
For her part, McNamara would like an apology from the dog-walker and compensation for the $185.05 in vet bills (so far) that have resulted from last week’s attack. Delilah will be okay, she says, but the harrowing attack left her with deep wounds that require constant attention. Unfortunately, the dog walker in question has been nothing but dismissive so far in McNamara’s attempts to seek a settlement, so this case is likely headed for Dorchester court.
In the meantime, McNamara wants her neighbors to know that — at least until the state starts better enforcement at Victory Road— it’s unsafe for dogs and their owners. That’s too bad, because the park is an important part of our waterfront. It’s critical that the state take steps to enforce its rules here and ensure that everyone can enjoy the park without fear. People who observe scofflaws misusing the park should call the State Police.