Sunday, September 30, 2007

Dog Federation of New York Responds To Proposals to Restrict Dog Ownership

In Town Of Haverstraw

New York, NY – September 28, 2007: The Dog Federation of New York (DFNY), a statewide coalition of dog owners and dog-related organizations, issued a statement today expressing deepest concern over a new ordinance unanimously approved by Town of Haverstraw Councilmembers to restrict dog ownership by limiting the number of dogs town residents are allowed to own.

In press reports Haverstraw Town Supervisor Howard T. Phillips indicated that similar limitations on cat ownership may be discussed in the future, and consideration of breed specific measures was mentioned.

Responding to a barking dog complaint, on September 24 the Town of Haverstraw approved a limit law that restricts the number of pets permitted in each resident’s home. That plan has angered many town residents, who are coming out in force to oppose the law.

Breed specific measures are illegal in New York State, and they are opposed by every credible animal welfare organization in the country.

“Quality of life is an important issue, and residents should not be subjected to excessive barking,” said Mahlon Goer, DFNY spokesperson. “Dogs should not be allowed to become a nuisance to the community. However, limiting the number of dogs at a residence is not the best solution for excessive barking and there are better remedies available to address other concerns.”

“Simply put, the number of dogs in a household does not equate to noise. A single dog that barks excessively can be a huge problem, while other homes that include several quiet dogs cause no inconvenience or concern at all. We would hope that the Town of Haverstraw will choose to reconsider their actions and not target the vast majority of residents who are caring and responsible dog owners.”

Haverstraw’s limit law plan will also have a negative impact on the rescue community. “There are many people who voluntarily shelter homeless dogs without adding to the taxpayer’s expense. They foster dogs in their homes. This ordinance would be a death knell for many innocent dogs.” Ms. Goer also cited constitutional issues with the proposal, as similar ordinances have been overturned as violations of the 14th Amendment.

Under the new law, residents will be limited to four dogs. There is no "grandfather clause" for pets that may have resided in Haverstraw homes for many years.

“We fear that this law unnecessarily interferes with typical, lawful dog ownership and does not reflect the needs or values of town residents”, Ms. Goer continued. “DFNY would be pleased to work with the Town of Haverstraw on a proactive approach to support responsible dog ownership and ensure quality of life for all citizens.”

As a best practice, the DFNY supports addressing noise complaints with enforcement of nuisance or noise ordinances such as those already in place in Haverstraw, a recommendation from the Campaign For Responsible Ownership. “We are confident that a better, more effective solution is available that will address the needs of all residents of the community.”

The DFNY offers assistance to the Town of Haverstraw in crafting a solution and encourages the town to fairly, consistently and strictly enforce reasonable animal control measures and nuisance noise ordinances.

“Our goal is to support responsible dog ownership throughout New York State, said Ms. Goer. “The DFNY would be pleased to work with the Town of Haverstraw on a proactive approach to support responsible dog ownership and ensure quality of life for all citizens.”