To the Editor:
Roosevelt Island’s dog restriction signs are ignored by some of Roosevelt Island’s dog owners; many are literally pissed on several times a day. Once upon a time, our green spaces, especially those in close proximity to our playgrounds, were reserved for our children at play. Now they are regularly urinated and defecated upon by dogs whose dog owners prioritize their four-legged creatures over everybody else’s well being.
For nearly 30 years, this was not the case on our little Island. Our happy community strictly enforced an uncompromising, no-dog policy throughout the Island. Then, with the introduction of less socially-minded building complexes, the Donald Trumps of the world (i.e. hyper-wealthy real estate developers) decided they would simply eliminate our well-thought-out, neighborhood-oriented dog restrictions. This was done behind closed doors, without any community input whatsoever, all in the name of increasing profits. Democracy fell by the wayside.
Where do we stand now? RIOC continues to turn a blind eye at the ever growing problem, even removing previous dog restriction signs at the behest of their real estate masters.
RIOC’s Public Safety claims impotence, not even mentioning the issue of dog owners who violate restricted spaces in their official policy.
Selfish dog owners and dog walkers continue to trample on restricted grass areas and parade through restricted courtyards. Roosevelt Landings is subject to incessant barking day and night by dogs that have spied other dogs being walked in the courtyards by inconsiderate owners. This is not the result of dogs not being “well-socialized;” this is the result of dogs being dogs, and people being disrespectful of their neighbors.
Dogs are wonderful animals, and no, we cannot turn back time to stop the moneyed interests who determined the Island’s fate without the people’s consent. We can, however, protest the fact that the loud minority is determining our future.
With F. Scott Piro’s November 11 article (“Dog Owners Grow Impatient for Improvements”) in mind: our public spaces are already dominated by noise pollution from barking dogs; there are minefields of dog feces throughout the Island; and even our dog-restricted spaces are becoming canine bathrooms, thanks to willfully oblivious dog owners.
We don’t need more “dog amenities;” we need fewer. We don’t need to attract more dog owners, we need to attract fewer. We need RIOC to acknowledge that there is actually a problem. We need Public Safety to actually start enforcing curbing violations, leash violations, and, most desperately, enforcing the restrictions on our few remaining unsoiled green spaces. So far none of this has happened.
None of this is the fault of the dogs, nor is it the fault of all dog owners. With that said, we also shouldn’t have to worry about our children rolling around in dog urine or stepping in feces in clearly marked dog-restricted areas. Let’s prioritize the small two-legged creatures over our four-legged friends.
And since general respectfulness is doubtful to come from all dog owners, the onus is on RIOC CEO Susan Rosenthal and Public Safety Director John McManus (and dog owners) to ensure that our community maintains a commitment to our children and everyone’s quality of life by much more strictly enforcing both existing space restrictions and all other dog-related violations.