Mayor: Bellevue South Park getting $3.5M for upgrades

Mayor Bill de Blasio with Councilmember Rosie Mendez at last week’s town hall meeting for residents of Gramercy, Kips Bay, the East Village and Lower East Side (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Long requested improvements to Bellevue South Park, including a dog run, will be getting made, thanks to an infusion of $3.5 million in funding announced by the mayor.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the allocation of cash during a town hall hosted by Councilmember Rosie Mendez last Thursday for her constituents in Gramercy, Kips, Bay, the East Village and the Lower East Side.

“This is a park that Councilmember Mendez has put resources into as well as the borough president and Councilmember Garodnick,” the mayor said. “We’ll be able to add a dog run, upgrade the plaza and add a large play area.”

Natalie Grybauskas, a representative for the mayor’s office, added that the renovations also include upgrades to the basketball court, but could not provide specifics on the exact scope of the project, including where in the park the dog run will be located.

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Blessing of the Animals

(Photo by Joseph Torre)

Over the past two weekends, a number of local churches have held “Blessing of the Animals” ceremonies, in which parishioners are invited to bring their pets for just that purpose. The events are timed to celebrate the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. This past Saturday, at Church of the Epiphany’s ceremony, Father Austin Titus led the ceremony for local pooches and a guinea pig (pictured above). Another ceremony was held on the West Side at the Church of St. Francis Xavier (pictured below). Guests included a turtle, a service dog (shown in jacket) and quite a few other dogs.

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When stores denied this disabled woman’s service dog, she sued

Cheryl Krist, pictured with her husband Joseph and her service dog Bocci in Stuyvesant Town last year (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Last summer, Town & Village published an interview with Cheryl Krist, a Stuyvesant Town dog owner, who spoke about how her service pooch, Bocci, once saved her life. Krist, who walks with the aid of a cane due to a neurological condition that gives her tremors, had fallen backwards into a dip on the road after becoming started by a wild turkey. (This was in a rural road in Pennsylvania.) When Krist was unable to get back up, Bocci blocked his owner when a car came down the road, by standing up on his hind legs in front of her. Meanwhile, Krist also mentioned then as well as in prior interviews with this newspaper that she’s often had Bocci denied entry to neighborhood stores.

On Sunday, The Post published a story about two disabled New Yorkers who’ve filed lawsuits against various businesses over access issues, including Krist, who, according to the paper, has filed a total of seven.

Reached at home this week, Krist (who recently moved from Stuyvesant Town to Riverdale), declined to get into detail about specifics for the cases that are pending. One, however, she said she won last year against Gracefully. The store paid her a sum she said she isn’t allowed to discuss as well as a fine to the city. (A call to Gracefully wasn’t returned.) Another suit, against a local diner, she lost. But, according to Krist, there’s never a reason to deny her dog entry because Bocci wears a jacket that identifies him as a service dog.

“It saves a lot of questions,” she said.

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Dog owners say lack of open space biggest challenge

By Maya Rader

At a recent Dog Days event in Stuyvesant Town, Town & Village asked several of those in attendance what their biggest concern or challenge is as dog owners in New York City, as well as in ST/PCV. In a rare instance, the answers from all were unanimous: The biggest challenge was finding open space for dogs to play.

Photos by Maya Rader

“Finding a good place, especially with grass, for dogs to hang out and go to the bathroom. I think it’s even more evident in this area, because there are so many restrictions on where you can have dogs. Like you can’t walk them on any grass, which is a big thing. That’s probably the biggest. It would be nice if they had a good dog park here.”

Kelly Garber with Riley

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Redesigned dog run in the works for Madison Sq. Park

A park goer looks at a diagram outlining the planned dog run. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Madison Square Park Conservancy has announced a plan to renovate the dog run in the park, known as Jemmy’s Run, this past weekend.

The new run will be in the same place as the existing run but will be reconfigured to add more space for small dogs and to include new amenities, such as increased lighting, small hills and a water feature.

“We haven’t been able to serve small dogs in the existing space,” the conservancy’s executive director Keats Meyer said on Saturday at Barkfest, an event at the park for dogs and their owners. “It ends up being sort of like a cage, like a ‘small dog time out.’”

Meyer said that the renovations plans have been reviewed by neighborhood dog owners in previous workshops and surveys and adjusted based on community suggestions and needs. Meyer noted that one aspect of the plan that many respondents of the survey agreed on was changing the surface because users of the run don’t like the gravel that is currently there.

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Hurricane-impacted cats, dogs find owners at Adoptapalooza

Dena Spinelli, a volunteer with rescue organization Husky House with Jake, a now-healthy husky that was rescued from a puppy mill (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Sunday afternoon, over 400 cats and dogs in need of homes were brought to Union Square Park for Adoptapalooza, an event held by the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals and the Petco Foundation. A constant stream of animal lovers, many considering adopting or fostering new pets, filled the park’s north end, which was lined with booths manned by shelter volunteers as well as a few booths for games, pet photos and caricatures as well as a grass field.

Jane Hoffman, president of the Mayor’s Alliance, said at Adoptapalooza events, it’s typical for around 200 animals to get adopted.

“The value of it is it creates awareness,” said Hoffman, who also said it’s become a popular destination for families. This year, the event took on some extra urgency though thanks to a flurry of homeless pets from Florida and Texas following the hurricanes Irma and Harvey.

“When we had Superstorm Sandy, we had groups fly out of parts of the country and help us,” Hoffman said. “With Harvey and Irma, our groups stepped up to help them.”

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Dog rescued from East River near Stuy Town

Sept7 Dog rescue

A dog who’d been stranded in the water is rescued by the NYPD’s Emergency Service Unit. (Photo by Ed Dwyer)

By Sabina Mollot

On Monday morning, police rescued a dog that had somehow gotten stranded on a submerged rock in the East River near Stuyvesant Town.

A woman who’d been strolling through Stuyvesant Cove Park with her own dog was the one to alert police after spotting the frightened pooch. Cops said the call came in at around 7 a.m. and officers from the nearby 13th Precinct responded. They then called in the Emergency Service Unit (located at a neighboring building on East 21st Street) and a wet suit wearing officer soon arrived to retrieve the dog.

Stuyvesant Town resident Ed Dwyer was walking his dog as the rescue unfolded at around 20th Street. Surprisingly though the stranded dog, a 20-25 lb. part-hound mutt, wasn’t barking before help arrived.

“I didn’t notice the dog at all,” Dwyer said, admitting he only discovered what was going on from the woman who’d called 911. “He was just really quiet. Unless you were really looking you wouldn’t have seen him.”

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Paws & Relax owners helping dogs in Texas

Sept7 Paws and Relax GoFundMe

Seeing photos like this one inspired the business owners to help dogs impacted by Harvey.

By Sabina Mollot

Jon Huston and Steve Carroll, the owners of dog daycare center Paws & Relax on Avenue B, have set their sights on the animals left on their own following the flooding caused by Harvey. The owners of the business, both former residents of Stuyvesant Town as well as Peter Cooper Village, set up a GoFundMe page on Tuesday in the hope of raising $2,500 to send food to dogs in Texas who’ve been rescued after being abandoned or lost. By Friday at 9 a.m., the campaign exceeded its goal, totaling $2,850.

On Thursday afternoon, Town & Village spoke with Huston, who confirmed the effort had “taken off like wildfire.” At that point, the campaign had raised $2,440.

Huston said he and Carroll started the GoFundMe page after hearing about many animals who’d been stranded after their owners fled their homes.

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Dog Days are here again

Diane Patrone, Cha Cha, Fanny, and Jordan Gunter

By Maya Rader

The dog days are officially upon us. On Saturday morning, Stuyvesant Town held its first Dog Days event of the season. Residents brought their pups to Playground 1 to play and socialize with other dogs while stands were set up manned by local pet-related businesses. The event was also attended by an adorable pot-bellied pig that arrived in a stroller. The pig is currently being housed at Whole Health Veterinary Hospital on First Avenue.

The event also included an obstacle course with toys laid out across the playground, including seesaws, tunnels and bars for Fido to practice jumping over.

Photos by Maya Rader

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Kips Bay residents ask for temporary dog run

At a Community Board 6 meeting, delays on getting the funding for the dog run for Bellevue South Park were explained. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Dog owners in Kips Bay are pushing the Parks Department to consider a temporary solution for the lack of a dog run in Bellevue South Park. Members of multiple neighborhood groups made their case at a recent Parks Committee meeting of Community Board 6, arguing that a temporary run near the basketball courts would give residents an immediate place to play with Fido instead of having to wait at least five years while the Parks Department completes additional renovations on the park.

Kips Bay Neighborhood Association member Karen Lee said at the meeting that there is an area north of the basketball courts that is already fenced in and the group has submitted an application for a grant for $280,000 from Borough President Gale Brewer’s office to make changes to the space, such as an access ramp, a nonskid surface and automatic openers for the entrance gates. Lee said that the funding is mainly necessary to make the space accessible for residents with disabilities, which she said is one of the main motivations for pushing for the dog run in the first place.

“Dog runs in the city aren’t ADA compliant,” she explained prior to the meeting. “This would be the first dog run in the city that is ADA compliant. Hospital row is right there and there’s a huge community of disabled people in this neighborhood who already use this park.”

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Dog bites dog in Stuyvesant Town, owner files suit

Dog owners Liza Grier (left) and Siddharth Dube spoke about their experiences of dog-on-dog violence at a Stuyvesant town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association meeting on Saturday. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Dog owners Liza Grier (left) and Siddharth Dube spoke about their experiences of dog-on-dog violence at a Stuyvesant town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association meeting on Saturday. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

In July, Town & Village reported on a Stuyvesant Town pooch who was badly injured after getting mauled by another dog in the complex. Though the 13-year-old Portuguese water dog named Lorca has since recovered from the dog bite, his owner Siddharth Dube has sued the owners of the other dog.

According to the suit, he’s hoping to recover $7,500 in vet bills as well as $2,600 income he lost out on while caring for Lorca and other related expenses.

It was on June 27 when Dube said Lorca was bitten by the other dog, on his upper left leg, the wound later requiring surgery. He had been walking Lorca near the Oval when a woman passed by him with her own dog and a baby in a carriage. Dube was talking on his phone until he turned around after hearing Lorca howl in pain. Both owners tried to reel in their dogs on their leashes, but weren’t successful in getting the other dog’s jaws off Lorca until Dube kicked him off, he previously told T&V.

The suit also notes that he had to forcibly remove the dog, which he described as a brown puggle. Dube quickly took his own pet home, where Lorca appeared to be shaken but otherwise okay. However, Dube later found him looking lifeless in the living room and called the vet who advised Dube to bring in Lorca immediately for surgery.

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Whole Health holds dog adoption event

Guests at the adoption event (Photos by Maya Rader)

Guests at the adoption event (Photos by Maya Rader)

By Maya Rader

Whole Health Veterinary Hospital usually isn’t open on Sundays, but on Sunday, July 24, it unlocked its doors from 1-4 p.m. for a dog adoption event.

The event at the First Avenue health clinic was facilitated by Waggytail Rescue, an organization that finds homes for dogs (and occasionally cats) in need.

Throughout the day, people came to the clinic to visit the rescued dogs available for adoption. If someone wanted to adopt, they filled out an application and then left for a couple hours to think about their decision. If adopting seemed like too big of a commitment, they also had the option of fostering instead.

One person who became a foster parent at the event was David Chambers, who explained, “I can’t have a dog because I work too much.” Another fosterer, Yasmin Fodil, explained, “I wanted to adopt a dog and thought (fostering) was a good first step.”

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Canines who care: Therapy dogs from PCV fixtures at local hospitals

Christy Brown at home with Lacey and Rudy (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Christy Brown at home with Lacey and Rudy (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

In Town & Village’s first ever Dog Days of Summer issue four years ago, we profiled the dog therapy duo Christy Brown and her Maltese pooch Lacey, who together brightened the days of patients undergoing treatment at the Hospital for Joint Diseases.

Recently, however, team Brown became a power pooch trio thanks to the addition of another Maltese, Rudy — and he’s actually developed a following of people who request to see him.

“It’s a very rewarding experience,” said Brown, a resident of Peter Cooper Village. “Patients look forward to seeing the dogs.”

Thanks to both dogs being pint-sized (Lacey’s six and a half pounds while Rudy’s four and a half) even patients who’ve recently undergone surgery can hold and enjoy them.

The holding and petting is important in dog therapy, which, Brown noted, can help to alleviate conditions such as high blood pressure, depression, anxiety and even pain.

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MY DOG SAVED MY LIFE

Cheryl Krist with her husband Joseph and disability dog Bocci, pictured at a Dog Days event in Stuyvesant Town in April Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Cheryl Krist with her husband Joseph and disability dog Bocci, pictured at a Dog Days event in Stuyvesant Town in April (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

For Stuyvesant Town resident Cheryl Krist, having a dog has literally been a lifesaver. She got her disability dog, Bocci, eight years ago, in response to a neurological condition that causes her to get tremors. The shaking, which can happen any time, make her unsteady on her feet so she walks with the aid of a cane.

While Krist said the 40-pound brittany pooch has protected her more than once, one major incident was when he saved her from being hit by a car. This was a year and a half ago on a rural road in Pennsylvania, where Krist owns a home.

She had been walking along a road where there were a lot of ferns on one side, and because of all the plants she didn’t notice that there was also a wild turkey inside. As she walked past, the turkey, apparently startled, flew up towards Krist.

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Dog poop complaints decline in ST: study

A dog waste bag dispenser at a Stuyvesant Town playground during a Dog Days event (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

A dog waste bag dispenser at a Stuyvesant Town playground during a Dog Days event (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A new study from apartment listing company RentHop has found that Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village residents have seemingly become much more diligent in their pooper scooper duties in the last five years. The company examined the number of 311 complaints submitted about dog waste on the sidewalk and found that the neighborhood had seven complaints in 2010 alone but only one in every year since then except 2015, in which there were zero. RentHop data scientist Shane Leese said that the numbers for the neighborhood are lower than most of the other areas around it.

Although Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village and the surrounding neighborhoods saw big decreases in the number of complaints, other Manhattan neighborhoods saw increases, as high as 180 percent on the Upper West Side.

Leese said that both Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village and the Flatiron neighborhood have had decreases in the number of complaints this year, with the decrease in Flatiron being the most significant: last year there were 10 complaints and this year there have been two, for an decrease of 80 percent. The Gramercy neighborhood is doing less well with five complaints so far this year, a 400 percent increase from last year when there was only one complaint in the same period.

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