Wednesday, February 20, 2008

New Rochelle Law Forcing
Dog Owners From Park
Challenged in Court

Dog Federation Of New York supports challenge to unlawful, discriminatory public policies targeting law-abiding dog owners.

New York, NY – February 20, 2008 - The Dog Federation of New York (DFNY) made a motion to appear as amicus curiae (“friend-of-the-court”) on February 15, 2008 in the case of During et. al v. The City of New Rochelle, New York,. The papers delivered to the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division, Second Department, support a suit previously brought by dog owners Dennis C. During, Michael S. Friscia and Marci Malone against the City of New Rochelle and now under appeal. The dog owners seek nullification of New Rochelle’s illegal, unfair and punitive local ordinance requiring them to obtain extra photo identifications and permits, and pay special additional fees, simply to walk a dog in a public park.

Dog walkers with leashed dogs in Ward Acres Park in New Rochelle are subject to a disturbing stop-and-search policy in which police officers are instructed to stop people walking their dogs and demand to see a special “Ward Acres Dog Permit” photo identification. Persons unable to produce the special permits are asked to leave the park and, under the terms of the Ordinance, they are potentially subject to fines and/or imprisonment.

"As a statewide coalition of law-abiding dog owners, we are deeply concerned when a municipality illegally targets residents and tax-payers whose only “crime” is walking a dog in a public place," stated DFNY spokesperson Mahlon Goer. “New Rochelle residents and non-residents alike are not second class citizens, and state law protects them from unwarranted searches, special permit requirements, extra dog taxes, and other infringements of their civil liberties.”

The law suit, brought by New Rochelle resident and non-residents and supported by the Dog Federation of New York, points out numerous violations of state law in the ordinance. New York State’s Constitution and laws protect all of its citizens from discrimination, including dog owners.

"Ward Acres was the last park in New Rochelle open to people who want to walk their dogs, and now the City Council seems bent on forcing them out of it. Close to half of all households in New York include at least one dog, and we are surprised and dismayed to see that a better accommodation could not be worked out,” Goer continued. “Our goal is to promote dog-friendly and dog-safe communities for all New Yorkers. We are confident that better solutions are available.”

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP in New York City represents the Dog Federation of New York in this matter. The case was originally filed on April 16, 2007, Dennis C. During, Michael S. Friscia and Marci Malone v. The City of New Rochelle, New York in NY State Supreme Court, Westchester Co., Hon. W. D. Donovan, Index No. 6561/07.
For further information on the amicus brief, please contact the Dog Federation of New York:
For further background on Ward Acres, please visit We Love Ward Acres.