(Don’t) let the dogs out

(Don’t) let the dogs out

Unleashed pets creating a mess on city fields

WOONSOCKET – The problem of residents letting their dogs defecate on city ball fields has gotten so bad that city workers sometimes resort to removing the gates in hopes of discouraging pet owners from letting dogs run loose.

Even that extreme measure doesn’t always help, as owners move trash cans in front of the opening to allow their pets to roam freely.

Tommy Brien, coach of the Woonsocket High School baseball team, is speaking up on the issue, saying athletes trying to use the fields are repeatedly stepping on dog poop landmines.

The problem, said Brien, has become worse than ever in recent years, with large numbers of residents using the city’s fenced baseball and softball fields as their own personal dog parks and failing to pick up after their pets after they go. Many of these residents, he said, don’t leash their pets, but allow the dogs to run loose on the fields.

“It’s always been an issue, more now, because it seems like people just don’t care,” he told The Valley Breeze. “Whenever they see a space that the dog can go, (they) let them go.”

Brien is also an employee of the city Parks and Recreation Department and one of the individuals who picks up the mess left behind by inconsiderate dog owners. But his concerns, he said, are as a taxpayer and coach who needs the fields to practice and compete with his players. It’s not unusual, he said, for high school coaches to arrive at a field for a game only to find the field in a poor state because of what’s left behind by dog owners.

“There was a ball game the other day for high school varsity softball down at Baldelli Field, and there was a play in right field where the girl went to make the play and she slipped on all the dog poop,” he said. “And that’s just people being inconsiderate of the athletes. They don’t care about the athletes – ‘my dog did its business, let’s get out of here.’”

Brien said the problem is worst at Menard Field, Baldelli Field, Godin Field, Boulay Field and the fields at Bernon Park, where residents are able to use the fields when they’re not occupied by a team. Renaud Field, where the Woonsocket Middle School and High School baseball teams play, is less of an issue because it is locked and gated at night, he said. It’s an option he thinks the city might have to consider in the future for other fields if dog owners don’t step up.

“It might get to the point where all the fields are locked and people wouldn’t be able to use it,” he said.

City employees’ periodic attempts to solve the issue by removing the gates at the entrances to some of the fields have had little success. The thinking, said Brien, is that if dog owners don’t have an enclosed space to contain their dogs, they’ll be forced to keep them on a leash and keep a closer eye on them. But the action does little to solve the problem, with some dog owners moving trash cans in front of the field entrances to create an improvised gate.

Brien said there are some courteous residents who clean up after their pets, but noted that many dog owners have continued to make it a problem for others. City fields, he said, have signs posted saying no dogs are allowed on the field, though some parks allow dogs in the area outside the field.

Unlike some of its neighbors, Woonsocket does not have a designated dog park where dogs can run around in a fenced in space. In 2017, the city formed a “Woonsocket Dog Park Committee” to meet to discuss potential sites, but the initiative never got off the ground. Brien questioned whether a designated area would solve the problem considering some residents don’t pay attention to the policies in place now.

“They’re not going to take the dog to a designated spot, they’re going to take the dog to the nearest ball field they can,” he said.

With Woonsocket Little League kicking off its 2019 season this past weekend, and high school spring sports already in full swing, the problem is likely to continue as the weather warms. In the meantime, Brien has a message for city pet owners.

“The ball field’s for ball playing, not dog pooping,” he said.


Although I agree with the inconsiderate dog owners in this city, it has been a longer standing issue than the length of Tommy Brien's tenure as varsity coach. Tommy has worked for Parks and Recreation for many, many years and he only chooses to speak up now...Why? Because now he has to deal with it or it makes him feel directly ashamed. My kids played at some of these fields for the past 10 years. I complained about this issue relentlessly and it fell on deaf ears. I also complained about the condition of the fields and the complete lack of interest in city ball fields. Opposing teams from out of town laugh at the condition of our fields. My answer to this issue would be to Tommy, while you are working during the day grab a shovel and bag and pick up the landmines. Dothis until your boss can come up with a solution and stop complaining, because that was the exact answer I received from Baldelli back when I cared and you were working in the same position you have now.

It is not only baseball parks that have problems. Cemeteries have the problem with dogs running around and leaving deposits that the owners ignore. Many local cemeteries have signs posted "No dogs allowed" and yet you see owners and dogs running around leaving deposits and urinating on the markers. The acid in their urine is not good for the marker.

How do you feel when you go to visit a deceased love one and their is a pile of dog poop on the grave. Makes a person a little angry at those who show no respect.

whatever happened to locking the gates??? No access to doggie owners or anyone else using the field unless you are there to play ball. Create a schedule of play, a person monitoring the field, who opens up the park then locks it....would that work?