Professional dog walkers are ferrying pooches into the Dyker Beach Park dog run from all corners of the borough and ruining the leash-free lot for local canines, say pup-owning residents who are getting tired of the interlopers.
Neighbors say hired dog walkers often exceed the posted three-pup-per-person limit at the dog run at the corner of Seventh Avenue and 86th Street — sometimes bringing more than a dozen at a time — which they claimed causes crowding and nasty dogfights.
Bonnie Diaz, who lives across the street from the run, said that a group of pooches being overseen by walker Beth Sampson — who admitted that she trucks in dogs from Ditmas Park — once ganged up on her pet Marley.
Today, Marley takes off whenever Sampson or another dog-sitter arrives with a crew, Diaz said.
“The second somebody pulls up with a lot of dogs, I leave,” Diaz said, adding that the walkers tend to group around the picnic tables by the entrance, making it tough at times to escape without some kind of trouble.
James Gheida of Bensonhurst, who’s been visiting the run for nearly eight years, said that the privately-hired dog-sitters often bring as many as 18 animals to the park at a time, forcing him and his dog Woody to the far corners of the fenced-in lot — or out of it entirely.
“I don’t want to stick around. There’s no way they can control that many dogs,” said Gheida, adding that he’s seen packs of the animals attack single dogs that were at the lot with their owners and reported the incidents to Community Board 10.
CB10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann said she’s heard plenty of complaints like Gheida’s every month.
“People are saying dog walkers bring in huge groups of dogs and that many of them are vicious,” said Beckmann, adding that residents are further infuriated because 311 doesn’t accept complaints about dog-on-dog violence.
A 311 representative confirmed that the city helpline only responds to reports of dog attacks on people, but couldn’t explain why.
But professional dog walkers said the charges against them are untrue.
Sampson confessed that she often brings five or six dogs to the park, but vets her animals for personality problems before bringing them inside the dog run. She also says her dogs never fight with the other canines.
Keeping the peace among her pooches is essential to staying in business.
“If the dogs come back to their owners with marks from fighting, you aren’t going to be a dog walker for long,” Sampson said.
Another professional dogwalker — who refused to give her name — admitted that she brings dogs to Dyker Beach Park from as far away as Park Slope, but said she hires helpers to manage the animals.
She says she never had a problem controlling her pack, suggesting that some dog owners mistake loud play for violence.
“They hear barking and growling and see them chasing each other and they think the dogs are fighting,” the dog walker said. “Really, they’re just having fun.”