Wednesday, December 24, 2008

New Rochelle Dog Owners Successful in Lawsuit Against City
Challenge Secures Reasonable Access to Public Space

Dog Federation Of New York congratulates local residents who challenged policies restricting and penalizing law-abiding citizens

The Dog Federation of New York (DFNY) celebrates news of a final settlement in the lawsuit brought by three New Rochelle dog owners against the City of New Rochelle. The lawsuit centered on whether the City of New Rochelle could require law-abiding dog owners to buy costly special licenses simply to walk a leashed dog in a public park. Long an advocate of reasonable access to public spaces for responsible dog owners, DFNY appeared as amicus curiae in the suit, captioned During et. al v. The City of New Rochelle.

The New Rochelle ordinance required the purchase an expensive special license to walk dogs, leashed or unleashed, in the open public parkland of Ward Acres. Following commencement of the suit, the City of New Rochelle dropped the special licensing requirement and also agreed to substantially reduce fees charged for use of a three acre fenced-in dog park located within Ward Acres. Ward Acres is the only park open to dog walkers in the City of New Rochelle.

“Thanks to the perseverance of dog owners in New Rochelle, walking a dog in Ward Acres Park is no longer subject to special fees and police scrutiny,” commented Dog Federation of New York spokesperson Mahlon Goer. “As law-abiding and caring dog owners, we believe that reasonable access to public space for all members of the community is essential. We are very pleased with the outcome in New Rochelle.”

“Close to half of all households in New York include at least one dog,” Goer continued. “Our goal is to promote dog-friendly and dog-safe communities for all New Yorkers, and we are very happy that a fair accommodation was reached.”

About During et al. v. City of New Rochelle
The case was originally filed on April 16, 2007, as Dennis C. During, Michael S. Friscia and Marci Malone v. The City of New Rochelle in New York Supreme Court, Westchester County, Hon. W. D. Donovan presiding, Index No. 6561/07. The law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP in New York City represented the Dog Federation of New York as amicus curiae on a pro bono basis.

Press contacts: Patricia B. Wild, Attorney for Plaintiffs (914) 834-3969
Jeffrey P. Wiegand, Press Contact (914) 374-8320
To learn more about Ward Acres, the Westchester dog-owning community, visit We Love Ward Acres.

About the Dog Federation of New York
The Dog Federation of New York is a statewide coalition of dog clubs, organizations and individual dog owners that serves the public interest by educating citizens and public officials on dog safety and responsible dog ownership. DFNY advocates for strong, and humane dog-related legislation and is committed to working with municipalities across the state.