Paw-locked! Sunset Park pet-owners upset over locked park, plead with pols for dog run

Sunset Park demands a dog run after Parks department locks up one of few open pet spaces.
Sunset Parkers are demanding the neighborhood get its own dog run after Parks Department employees padlocked one of the green space’s few seemingly pet-friendly space.
Photo courtesy of Henry Stewart

Locals’ outcry for a dog park is growing louder after a former seemingly pup-friendly part of Sunset Park was padlocked last week, keeping pet-owners and their dogs out. 

Dog owners have had it “ruff” when it comes to getting a dog run in the area. They say they’ve been asking for a dog-friendly green space for years. Though their wishes haven’t been granted, they’d been pacified with a substitute semi-fenced-in area in Sunset Park near 41st Street and Sixth Avenue.

But on March 26, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation put chains and a padlock on it, leaving them with no space to let their four-legged friends run free. 

Sunset Park is like a dog with a bone when it comes to getting a dog run in the area.
Sunset Park is like a dog with a bone when it comes to getting a pup run in the area.Photo courtesy of Henry Stewart

Sunset Park allows for off-leash hours in dedicated park sections, NYC Parks press officer Chris Clark told Brooklyn Paper, but once the agency found out that pets were being allowed to roam free in the fenced-off garden area, Parks put padlocks on the fence to protect the garden.

“We encourage all New Yorkers to take advantage of our parks for fun, play, and relaxation – and that includes our four-legged friends,” Clark told Brooklyn Paper. “At Sunset Park, dog owners and their canine companions can head to the lawn at the center of the park for off-leash hours.”

The lockout has recharged calls for a dog run in the community, or at the least a formal off-leash area in the park — something southern Brooklynites have been formally petitioning for as far back as 2021. Later that year, community leaders joined pet owners at rallies in support of their demand.

Council Member Alexa Avilés, who currently represents District 38, said her office will continue to work with residents and the Parks Department toward a solution satisfying all parties — something she stressed will require a big enough area with running water, drainage and someone to run and fund it.

“For many years, a number of residents have been calling for a dog run in Sunset Park, a process that’s under the Parks Departments’ purview,” Avilés told Brooklyn Paper. “Some Sunset Parkers have been pushing for a park in an area on a steep incline which presents several costly and feasibility challenges for the department.”

Julio Peña III, chairperson for Community Board 7, which represents Sunset Park, said he is in support of a dog run at the park, and that his board has, in the past, considered options near 41st Street and Sixth Avenue, and an open space on the left-hand side of the Sunset Park recreational center, near 44th Street.

But, for Sunset Park to get a dog run, it appears there are still quite a few human hoops to jump through.

“Our board had a few meetings regarding a dog park a few years ago,” Peña said. “We are supportive of the idea but have been told by [NYC] Parks that unless our council member, borough president or other electeds allocates funds, it would not be possible.”

To date, more than 1,200 people have signed a Change.org petition calling for a designated Sunset Park dog run.