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Graham says dog ordinance might be a good idea

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Watertown Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham said Wednesday that a city law banning dogs at the farmers market on Washington Street might be a good idea, a change of heart that is a result of discussions he has had with constituents.

“The more people I’ve talked to, I think it would be probably a good idea not to have it,” Mr. Graham said. “There’s a boatload of little kids there in strollers. Everything is so packed in there.”

When Councilwoman Roxanne M. Burns originally broached the idea of a ban on dogs at the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce’s farmers market during a City Council meeting earlier this month, Mr. Graham questioned whether such a law would be enforceable. Ms. Burns brought up the idea of a dog ban after an American bulldog bit 2-year-old Indigo Mullin at the event, requiring numerous stitches.

Mr. Graham said he spoke with a worker in the building on 215 Washington St. who saw the attack, which prompted him to reconsider. Though he’s not totally sold on a ban on dogs, he’s leaning toward “erring on the side of caution.”

“It’s probably not a setting for dogs,” Mr. Graham said. “I guess we could look at, it’d be kind of a finite ordinance for a period of the day.”

Mr. Graham originally signaled that he was open to a ban during an interview Wednesday on the WATN-AM 1240 talk show “Hotline,” which he hosts when he isn’t an official candidate for mayor.

“You hate to say you have to have a law for everything, but as one person said, some people bring these dogs out like they’re showing off a new car or something,” Mr. Graham told fill-in host Joseph L. Brosk.

Mr. Graham’s opponent in the Nov. 8 mayor’s race, Jeffrey M. Smith, called the event a “tragedy,” but said a law could be cumbersome and hard to enforce.

“First of all, what happened at the farmers market is just an absolute tragedy and unfortunate,” Mr. Smith said. “The reality is, the farmers market, you’re talking about a public walkway and telling owners that want to get from Point A to Point B, just because there’s an event going on, they can’t use the public walkway.”

Like Mr. Graham, Mr. Smith left wiggle room to change his mind on the position.

“You have to think about the consequences of those actions,” Mr. Smith said. “Even though it’s in reaction to a horrible tragedy, I would say that I wouldn’t want to have a knee-jerk reaction. I would want to see what the proposal will be. Can you legally ban somebody from a public sidewalk from walking their dog?”

Mr. Smith, meanwhile, said he was unsure whether he would appear on the WATN-AM program. Mr. Brosk said during the show that Mr. Smith has an open invitation.

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