For many years, there has been an unwritten rule in Central Park that dogs can be off-leash before 9 am and after 9 pm. Now some crazies called the Juniper Park Civic Association have brought a lawsuit against the Parks Department to end this privilege for dogs and their people.
The Urban Hound newsletter says "We don't think this lawsuit stands a chance (already, a judge has said it lacks reason). " But the leash Nazis won when they sued to keep dogs on leash in Riverside Park and now no dogs run free there.
A similar arrangement is in effect in the parks near where I live. Ultimately the answer is dog parks.