City Attorney eases fears about dog park liability

January 8, 2012 by  

Liability concerns over a proposed dog park in Manchester appear to be settled. Town Attorney Ryan Barry did a little investigating and found that the law protects Manchester in dog bite cases. The board of directors voiced their concerns over city liability in December as it discussed proposed changes to an agreement with the Manchester Dog Owners Group(MDOG).

In a memo dated December 29, Barry informed General Manager Scott Shanley that Manchester “would have a nearly ironclad defense,” should a dog bite someone at the park and the owner or caretaker could not be located. The town’s freedom from liability would remain in effect even if the dog owner didn’t have any assets, Barry added. The lone exception regarding city liability would be if a person was trespassing, harassing or otherwise abusing a dog. Print companies may be called upon to copy dog park safety information that’s available from the Animal Humane Society.

MDOG has raised some $40,000 over the last three years for the dog park that would be built off Spring Street. A 2008 resolution approved by the board of directors emphasized that taxpayer dollars would be off limits to help cover the cost of construction or operation of the park. Phase one of the dog playground, which would encompass about a half acre, was supposed to be completed by the end of 2011. Phase two would enclose about 1.5 acres.

In December the MDOG asked the board to allow taxpayer funds to be used certain for services like trash pickup and to extend the completion date of phase one by one year. The board voted to table the request until its next meeting.