Montclair, NJ – Dogs off leash in and around Montclair, and complaints about them and their owners, feels like a tail as old as time. Now, the Township of Montclair will be cracking down on pups prancing sans leash at its parks, according to Michele Shiber, Montclair Township Animal Control Supervisor.

Shiber said she has heard from many residents with complaints about off leash dog sightings in Montclair.

After talking to Montclair’s Parks and Recreation, Shiber said the Township’s parks page online has been updated to reflect Township Code 82-13, stating that dogs are not permitted to be off-leash in any Township parks, except in areas specifically designated as a dog park. Ultimately, Shiber would like more park signage reminding people to keep their dogs on leash and to remove dog poop.

Shiber said Montclair’s Parks superintendent encouraged her and her team to continue to patrol the parks to help educate the public and address violators when necessary.

Montclair’s animal control officers visit the various Montclair parks, not only to discourage off leash dogs and catch violators in the act, but to educate residents about the requirements and responsibilities of having their dogs out in public. Shiber or members of the Animal Control Office team may also check to see if the dogs they meet are licensed in Montclair.

As a reminder to all dog owners, Montclair’s ordinances on dogs can be found here: You can also reach Montclair’s animal control officers about any animal issue by calling 862-621-9113.

Letting Dogs Roam Free

The proliferation of off leash dogs has long been a polarizing issue at Mills Reservation, a county park where there have been reports of an on leash dog being attacked by dogs off leash. There has also been concern that dog trainers and walkers were bringing dogs to Essex County parks to run off leash.

Even though Montclair received a Better Cities for Pets designation, the Township doesn’t have a dog park, unless you count the one it shares with Bloomfield at Brookdale Park.

There was a petition in 2015 to create off leash hours for dogs at Mills Reservation. In 2018, Montclair Council considered a proposal for off leash dog hours at Edgemont Park, but it never came to fruition.

If you want to let your dog run free, there’s an app for that, called Sniffspot. You can rent safe and private dog parks (often large fenced yards, like this one in Cedar Grove) for about $20 an hour.

33 replies on “Animal Control Officer To Crack Down on Dogs Off Leash at Montclair Parks”

  1. It is these types of half-baked initiatives that undercut support for Montclair Animal Shelter operations. Let me guess, Edgemont Park area residents are complaining? What a shocker.

    Ask people what does licensing cats & dogs actually get us?

    And if you want to put a spotlight on some other things, let look at the Parks & Recreation Dept funding, programs, along with how public park space is allocated.

  2. And if we really want to have some fun, let’s compare the activities, boundaries, & membership profiles of the Council’s Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs Advisory Committee with the Council’s dismantled Senior Citizens Advisory Committee. The former is chugging along and overstepping and going where no Council advisory committee should go. The latter was “reconstituted” because they did exactly the same stuff. And if you wonder how Clary Anderson got so high up on the expenditures priority list, ask the Council’s PRCA Advisory Committee. You can contact them at…oh, right, there is no contact information. Don’t worry, your park representative is…oh right, there is no list of committee members. Why is that? Because they are constituted to advise the Council! Not to advocate! Not a way for Councilors to bypass the Faulkner Act.

    May I suggest you make a donation…and then we can talk. We can talk about Animal Control next.

  3. Clean the litter on Valley Road between Bellevue and Kings. Discarded Covid masks, coffee cups, pizza boxes . . . It is a disgrace!

  4. @silverleaf,
    That is on the Upper Montclair Business Association (UMBA), not the Township.

  5. Sorry silveleaf. I didn’t mean to minimize your point about the need for an U Mtc cleanup. And to be clear, I also think we should ticket those dog owners (& hired walkers) who don’t clean up after their charges (or leave the bag for others to take care of). “Used” poop bags don’t go in the co-mingled recycling people! Seriously? Do ya think?

    I think we should expand the “clean up” issues to Montclair Community Development Block Grant funding (CDBG). It was touched on in the April 14th Council mtg, but then – surprise! – we lost focus after the CFO enlightened us with facts.

    I would like to see Civil Rights Commission take a look and explain last year’s CDBG allocations for a start. You have time. How does the Council allocate funding to build a wall between neighborhoods? In the 4th Ward. Was it for public safety? What kind of public safety? Maybe the NAACP wants to look, too. Or not.

    I’m just thinking maybe threatening taking out the stick, with no carrot, is a pretty stupid decision coming out of this opaque collaboration between the PRCA, Parks & Rec, Animal Control. Maybe the public should be pause their donations to the Friends of this park and that park (because they are part of the PRCA). Maybe the Friends are overstepping what their donations are intended to be used for?

    Let’s have a community discussion and sort all this out.

  6. Correction: The correct date was the 4/25 Council mtg, about 2.5 hrs in, on the costs discussion behind R-23-105. Who knew an ADA bathroom costs $20K just for the design. And the lowest construction bids are coming in 50% above spec max?

  7. Not a prob, Frank. How is the cleanup on the UMBA per se? Are the local business owners responsible for the actual removal of the litter off the street in front of their storefronts?

  8. On the sidewalk in front if their stores, you mean, not at the curb. That is on the town.

  9. Speaking generally and as a layperson, my long-held understanding is the township is not responsible for other’s litter on municipal property unless it rises to a public health issue.
    In short, it is not our litter and it is discretionary how much/how often we want to clean the streets. This is part of the reason there is confusion downtown who is responsible for cleaning what & when. Yes, we clean the streets but the downtown businesses (think sidewalk cafes) are creating much of the litter at a daily rate the Township could never keep up with. I also witnessed one business clearing it tables into municipal street receptacles. It is not an outlier problem. Also, not excusing anything, but I have a memory fragment of us maintaining one of street sweepers operational, but no time attached.

    Anyway, back to U. Mtc Village issue. You don’t see the BigBelly trash receptacles where they are needed most because the receptacles are space hogs. They have to go where there is no chance of parking. Further, in UMV, there are limited number of traditional trash receptacles. I can’t say if there are any recycling receptacles, much less BigBelly versions.

    I notice this anecdotally. I really don’t care. All I know is that if you are doing a lot of takeout, printing receipts needlessly and doing a sidewalk cafe biz, the UMBA needs to get their act together and work with DCS. Or, we can rejoin the topic – the scourge of off-leash dogs – and fund the Animal Control dept another 6% in addition to their new truck and new badges.

  10. “The township is not responsible for other’s litter on municipal property . . .”

    Huh? By “others”, do you mean the retail store owner or the consumer? If I buy a cup of coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts on Valley and throw the cup in the street in front of CVS, the town is somehow not responsible for the clean-up?

    I will not belabor the point, but you see this as anecdotal, as I do the off-leash dog issue.

  11. Michelle Shiber of Montclair Animal Control reminds me of myself when I was a little boy. I wanted to be a cop and loved having all sorts of pretend police paraphernalia strapped to my waist. I grew up to be an accountant (I know, so boring). But now I have a retired K9 dog. I let her run free sometimes, guilty as charged. Molly is a known sweetheart and a lady – better behaved than many people in Montclair government.

  12. “If I buy a cup of coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts on Valley and throw the cup in the street in front of CVS, the town is somehow not responsible for the clean-up? – silverleaf

    You’re right, of course. My bad. I was one of those idiots that thought the suburban family weekend day at Mountainside watching their little progeny attempt soccer where, when they finished, the park looked like a mini-Woodstock of litter. Sorry Ira for the over-the-top imagery.

    My bad – those attendees were not responsible for their litter. The Township was…and they were quite slow in remedying the horror.

    Of course, silverleaf, there is no doubt you are right again. People that live or come here are not responsible for their behavior – or litter. I’ll blame Steve Wood.

    I admit I am a dinosaur. A throwback.

    T Vaughn,
    You have my respect. You adopted an older dog and didn’t go to Amish Country to get a puppy mill trophy dog. And yes, I totally believe your sweetheart Molly is the personification of a life well-live…and beyond what we are seeing in Montclair’s government. And people want to deprive her of a romp with her friends. And we do Universal Playgrounds. Funny. Too funny.

  13. And I have to say, after the last 24 months of this Council’s antics. to go after house pets is really, awesomely stupid. You guys should really think about a career change. House pets? I didn’t think you could top the Glen Ridge Fire Contract. God, this is fun!

  14. Now Frank, within the context of my other comments complaining about TOO MUCH litter in our streets, what possible reason could I have to think, “People that live or come here are not responsible for their behavior – or litter”?

  15. Well, those who can’t govern often end up trying to control. If I ever adopt another dog, I’ll call him Orwell.

  16. Enforcing a simple quality of life issue is really just that, no need to make it more. If a “house pet” is outside, it’s not. Those enjoying the park don’t know how “sweet” your pet is, they just don’t want the risk of being attacked, which happens all too much here because people think the rules don’t apply to them. You go Michele.

  17. Someone should write a sequel to “1984”. Working title: “Montclair in 2024”. I figure, by next year we should be fully non-transparent and totalitarian.

  18. Thomas Vaughn: Would it be surprising to find the same residents who complain about leaf blowers and plastic bags and UPS and FedEx trucks and DeCamp failing and every proposed Lackawanna plan and unfettered capitalism and dogs off their leashes are probably the same ones who have those “Hate Has No Home Here” yard signs?

    FYI, I betcha, in an honest world, if you called out “Orwell!” in this town half the residents would turn and say, “Yes?”

  19. Jon,
    I support the leash law if the Animal Control officer appreciated the importance of dogs having playtime. Of course she does. I am absolutely amazed someone her leadership role, who advocates for dogs, and asks for – and is provided such space for her direct charges at the shelter can’t see her role beyond enforcement. And she doesn’t see the continued need for the thousands of dogs she adopts out.

    And take time to visit our bustling parks from sunrise to 9am. Go to our flagship park, the one that we have spent many millions on in just the last 10 year…during the weekday. And tell me this highly evolved community of ours can’t offer a window to share all these acres of unused space.

    This town is becoming increasingly intolerant and just plain ugly.

  20. Pat, speaking of totalitarian, we had a preview at the last meeting when Mr. Yacobellis shushed the residents at least 3 times. It was improper (impinging on free speech) and… offensive. Yikes.

    As far as the article topic, I have an elderly dog that I sometimes let off the leash so he can have a bit of doggie freedom. He can’t run amymore and has maybe 4 teeth left, poor thing. What’s the big deal?

    Frank Rubacky is right – THIS is a priority all of a sudden? Why don’t they focus on the budget (transparency, please!), Lackawanna, onslaught of lawsuits, botched fire promotions, or even those godawful leaf blowers? Or how about finding an experienced town attorney after a year and a half since Mr. Karasick left? The one we currently have (forgot the name) – oy. I don’t think he has ever worked as town attorney before and… it shows.

    Well, at least he is supposed to be finally gone by the end of May and that was a good decision by the Council – let’s give credit where credit is due. But unless they have actually found someone, I guess it’s the female assistant town attorney they have on staff who will be holding down the fort a while. I don’t know how much experience she has but at least she speaks in a coherent, clear way.

  21. TooBigToFail, I am an unapologetic capitalist. But I appreciate reasonable regulation, which is a personal preference to a degree. I do miss stores bagging my stuff in plastic bags (can we maybe bring bags back in a biodegradable form?).

    I’m okay with dogs running around as long as they are mellow. That said, I prefer if their poop is picked up by owners or some hired company. That way, I only have to worry about not stepping in goose poop, which is THE problem at Edgemont park. Goose poop is EVERYWHERE. Further, I’ve seen Canada geese attack children and grownups alike.

    Council members: why are we focusing on dogs if geese are the most complained-about offenders at Edgemont Park?

    As far as “Orwell” we would have to conduct a study, as in walk around town and ask a hundred random residents if they heard of Orwell and the symbolism of his writing.

    Even folks who never heard of Orwell easily understand his ideas. Some things are universal, meaning, they translate across time and geography.

  22. Do I really have to license my cat? A cat. Seriously? Oh I’m sure someone will provide a thoughtful answer, and others will say I’m being unreasonable for objecting. But please, if you do, include just ONE example in which the licensing of a cat led to the greater good of the civic life of Montclair. And don’t anyone tell Peter Yacobellis we’re talking about this…it will just give him another chance to defend the wise actions of our political leadership and probably lead to the stiffening of licensing rules and fines, and then maybe there’ll be a celebration the good work of the Department of Animal Control and it will make the local media. Oh my. How much is the fine for not licensing Fluffy?

  23. But I digress. Jonbonesteel, if dogs off leashes scare you, you might consider the sad case of Martha’s Vineyard. That paradise was once a place where happy labs and goldens seemed to be everywhere, and then a miserable woman from Montclair sued because she didn’t like dogs and guess what happened. Dogs are no longer allowed at the beloved Grange Hall arts and crafts shows, or the farmer’s market, they’re not even allowed to swim in the ocean on 95% of the island’s beaches. So go ahead, enforce your beloved laws about feral labradoodles. Another happy quality of life contribution by the good people of Montclair.

  24. And might some kind reader explain to me why Montclair won a “Better Cities for Pets” award? Why, exactly?

  25. Amen, T. Vaughn. Works of literature that are considered ‘timeless’ are usually those that carry content relatable to all of humanity, regardless of place or point in history.

    “Nineteen eighty four” was translated into over 60 languages. It was banned in Soviet Union till late 80s. Perhaps we should by 7 copies and place them in council chambers.

  26. Sorry, I had to laugh at your post. The Township pays thousands of dollars to bring in dogs off-leash to scare away the geese. Yes, yes – the dogs are under control of their owner. What an amazing concept. Remember last time social media complaints exploded and brought out Animal Control? We brought in portable gas chambers to humanely handle the geese problem for the Edgemont folks. We used to have nearby deer hunts (in a preserve!!! by deed) within the same radius as our transit oriented development circle around our train stations.

    I understand the narrow-minded suburban mindset here. I am surprise by how quickly our Bridge & Tunnel transplants, once introduced to the concept of our segregated neighborhood parks, regress to our mindset.

    I know, the problem is the purpose of our parks didn’t follow the Olmsted principles.

  27. I think we are getting closer to agreeing that some things are overregulated and some others not regulating enough. Granted, this is subjective to some extent. However, good leaders know how to strike a balance and have a vision how to get there. Those who don’t have a vision or ability to tackle big issues end up controlling/micromanaging and passing “fluff” laws for PR purposes. I guess we’re back to Orwell.

  28. Well, you can go off on all sorts of tangents to justify disagreement with the basic simple enforcement of a quality of life issue for the majority of folks who use a public park. Matha’s Vineyard, really? If you want your pet to run free, visit a park that supports that.

  29. Thanks Jon! You have neatly summarized Montclair’s residents’ values.
    Diversity is a tangent. The majority should have the power. Simple is best.

    If it was the way you were raised, then it should be good enough now. But, we have also evolved, We are better, smarter & faster than our parents. This is Mont lair. Thank you for saying what needed tone said! 🙂

    Can we go next to “then change the law”..

  30. TooBig made a crack about “Hate Has No Home Here.” I might be misreading his/her intent (and no this is not a “pronoun” thing, I just don’t know who TooBig is) but I believe Jawsofsteel above should have a “Tolerance Has No Home Here” sign where he lives. Criminy, Jon, they’re DOGS! They make people happy. They love humans. Are you also the type who calls the police when people are in the park after dusk? Or when the leaf blowers are still on after 6? Frank Rubacky is right: this town is becoming increasingly intolerant. Let me add, unpleasant, cantankerous, unneighborly.

    Here’s reality, this from the New York Times (and I am NOT making this up):

    MONTCLAIR, N.J., Feb. 14. — A dog supposed to be suffering from rabies terrorized sections of Montclair, Glen Ridge, and East Orange yesterday afternoon. It bit a young daughter of Charles L. Holcomb of 19 Carroll Street, East Orange, and Charles Baker of this town, who later killed the animal with a revolver.

    That was February, 1909, Jon. And you have to love the citizen with the evil handgun. That must give you nightmares.

    There are 31 Comments since this story about Montclair Animal Control broke on May 2. Clearly people are taking sides. People love their dogs, and some people are not fans. Let’s hope Ms. Schiber of Animal Control is understanding in her enforcement. If the way this town is going is any indication, my bet is she won’t be.

  31. Meredith Hoffman,

    Interesting that this doggie topic leads to general reflection on our government. This whole “apawling” group ought to undergo “basic obedience training”. They are supposed to serve us, not disrespect us by shushing or speaking down to us. Anyone remembers the way Mr. Hurlock barked at that outspoken female resident (forgot her name)? I was appalled!

    I figure Manager Stafford was Mr. Hurlock’s role model. No wonder Hurlock chose to ‘recuse’ himself on the issue of Stafford’s removal. I wasn’t all that curious about local government until things started going south during this Council’s term. My neighbors who are better informed tell me that Hurlock was okay during his first two terms. I have no reason to not believe them, but Hurlock I see now is not someone I want to see in 2024. I don’t think I would dare to publicly ask him about his position on off-leash dogs lest he barked at me the way he did at a few other female speakers.

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