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New York City, NY: ASPCA fears NYCHA dog ban in city housing will fill animal shelters
Posted on July 6, 2009 by stopbslcom
ASPCA fears NYCHA dog ban in city housing will fill animal shelters

ASPCA fears NYCHA dog ban in city housing will fill animal shelters
BY Lisa L. Colangelo
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Sunday, July 5th 2009, 4:00 AM

A tougher city Housing Authority pet policy is causing confusion among dog owners and concern among rescuers who fear more homeless animals will linger in shelters.

"There's been a lot of misinformation out there," said Debora Bresch, a lawyer in the ASPCA's government relations department.

As of May 1, tenants who live in New York City Housing Authority buildings are barred from owning pit bulls, Rottweilers and Doberman pinschers. In addition, the new policy bans any dog that weighs more than 25 pounds.

NYCHA residents who already have dogs can keep them - as long as they weigh under 40 pounds, which was the previous weight limit.

In addition, all current owners now have to register their dogs with NYCHA management.

Confused? So are the dozens of people who have called the ASPCA for advice in recent weeks, unsure about whether they can keep their beloved dogs.

"One woman who has a lovely pit bull that weighs under 40 pounds said she was having trouble registering her dog," said Bresch. "We had to get involved and speak with the manager."

NYCHA spokesman Howard Marder said the managers were well-informed about which dogs are allowed and which are not.

"All the managers are aware of the policy and the need to enforce the policy," Marder said. "This policy change was requested by the tenants."

But at the Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City, pet owners still weren't sure which dogs were covered by the new policy.

Ivory Simpson was surprised to hear his 2-year-old dog Nemo, a Chihuahua/poodle mix, would not be allowed if he were getting the dog today because the pooch weighs more than 25 pounds.

The longtime resident and Nemo are grandfathered in under the new policy, but Simpson still thought the agency was barking up the wrong tree.

"I don't think it's a good idea," said Simpson, 52. "You should be able to keep your dog if it has a license and had its shots."

But another resident, Marthy Best, said there are some dangerous dogs that do not belong in the buildings.

"They are training them to fight," Best, 57, said of some dog owners, as she walked Chase, her 5-year-old poodle.

Bresch countered that the NYCHA ban is too sweeping. The ASPCA believes weight and breed do not reflect a dog's temperament, she said.

Other advocates agreed.

"This is a wrongheaded policy that doesn't get into the root problem," said Jane Hoffman of the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals, which rescues animals from shelters. "You need to go after the reckless owners who don't treat their dogs like family members."

NYCHA controls 8% of all rental housing in the city. About 5% of the city's population live in those properties.

In the weeks leading up to the policy change, more than 170 dogs from New York City Animal Care and Control shelters were adopted out to NYCHA tenants. According to Bresch, who obtained the statistics, more than 100 of these dogs would no longer be allowed into those homes because of the new weight and breed restrictions.

"That's a whole population of potential owners foreclosed to us," said Hoffman. "Hundreds of dogs will be dying in shelters because of this policy."

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