Prospects for Our Campaigns Are Good and Broad Trends Are in Our Favor, Says LI-DOG President
The following is a modified version of the President’s 2015 Report to the LI-DOG Board of Directors
I am happy to report that LI-DOG has continued to build on its record of success over the last year.In June 2014, we had a ribbon cutting ceremony for the first four on-leash dog walking trails in Town of Huntington parks in which dogs were previously banned. In July, we celebrated the Grand Opening of the Selden Dog Park, which we had worked on for three years, and in Jan. 2015, Nassau County launched a pilot program for on-leash dog walking at Massapequa Preserve, the first step in County Executive Ed Mangano’s commitment to increase access to Nassau County parks.
LI-DOG also launched two new campaigns in the last year.
In June 2014, we met for the first time with the NYS Office of Parks to ask for access to NYS beaches. In April 2015, we followed up with a letter addressing concerns raised by Parks regarding dogs and beaches, and earlier this month the Regional Director responded by noting that our request is being seriously reviewed.
Also, in Sept. 2014, we helped launch a campaign to get a dog park or on-leash access to Town of Hempstead Parks. In May 2015, we sent Supervisor Kate Murray a letter making the case for access and noting that we have more than 500 signatures on a petition. We have not heard back from the Supervisor, but on May 22nd, Councilman Anthony Santino said at a public meeting that he “fully supports dog-friendly parks.”
There also have been developments beyond our own work that help our cause.
In early June, the Town of North Hempstead approved on-leash dog walking in four parks, with the intent of rolling it out to all its parks. This is a great precedent for our Town of Oyster Bay and Hempstead campaigns.
Then, last week, the New York State Legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill to allow dogs in outdoor dining areas. Assuming the Governor signs the bill, this will be very good for dog-friendly events. Approval of the bill by overwhelming margins highlights how elected officials do not want to be seen as anti-dog these days.
The trend toward more access for dog owners and their dogs is clearly in place and it provides us with great opportunity.
Our social media sites are doing great. Our Facebook Group continues to grow rapidly with new members up 68% in the last year. Membership in our Meetup Group is up 40% from last year.
Our email list continues to grow. Membership is up 5% from last year to almost 3,000 people.
As far as the LI-DOG website is concerned, we got 16,000 unique visitors in the first five months of the year or 3,300 unique visitors a month. That’s attractive, but we can do better. It’s important we launch our new website, which we’ve been working on for months, this coming fall.
Our finances are in decent shape. So far this year, we’ve raised $1,850, while spending $850. As has been the case for the last several years, Viewpoint Photography in Huntington is our biggest contributor. Last year’s Holiday Pooch Shoot was the best ever and we want to thank Pam Setchell and the whole crew at Viewpoint for making it happen. The other major source of contributions this year has come from dog owners who participated in our Pack Walk at Old Westbury Gardens in April and donated to LI-DOG. Thank you to everyone who helps support LI-DOG!
As far as meeting the goals we set for ourselves in January, the outlook is positive.
Our goal in the Town of Huntington is to get two or three new dog-friendly trails designated this year. With preliminary paperwork done on recommendations for two new trails, that goal looks achievable.
Our goal in the Town of Oyster Bay this year is a commitment for on-leash or beach access. At an April 2015 meeting, the Town expressed interest in considering at least one of those goals.
Our goal as far as our Nassau County on-leash campaign is to expand the pilot program and get access to more trails and parks. We want to give the pilot program at Massapequa Preserve until the end of the summer to make sure it’s working and then we’ll get another meeting with the County. We have a couple of trails in mind that we believe would work well for on-leash dog walking and there’s a petition effort underway for one of those trails.
In the Town of Brookhaven, our goal is getting water at the Selden dog park. The Supervisor indicated support for that, so we’ll be working on that effort.
As far as our Town of Hempstead campaign, while it’s going to take work, I am confident we will succeed there, too, given what’s going on in other Long Island Towns.
Our goal for our NYS Beach Access campaign is obviously to get access to beaches during the off-season. This will take time and continued engagement and dialogue with the Office of Parks.
One other important area of focus going forward will be our Pack Walks. These events are a great fit for us in terms of our mission. They demonstrate responsible dog ownership because they’re always on-leash and everyone picks up and their popularity highlights how much people really want and enjoy on-leash access to parks. Our Pack Leaders are doing a great job of leading the walks and we’ve gotten great feedback from people who’ve participated.
To sum up, the prospects for our campaigns this year are very good and we’ve got broad trends in our favor. What counts is that we have the experience and knowledge to make the most of these opportunities. We get great feedback from our supporters about our effectiveness, which is worth its weight in gold.
I am, as always, very grateful to you, my colleagues, for your contributions to our success. I’ve said this before and I’ll say again—together, we have and will continue to have a positive impact on the lives of thousands of Long Island dog owners and their dogs. We should be very proud of our work.