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03/19/2020 – Heckscher Park Pilot Program Up for Renewal


Photo Credit: Karen Thomas

Heckscher Park Leashed Dog Pilot Program Up for Renewal on March 31st

Support the Resolution to Renew the Pilot Program!

The pilot program allowing leashed dogs in Huntington’s Heckscher Park is up for renewal on March 31st! A resolution to extend the program from April 1st through June 30th will be introduced by Councilwoman Joan Cergol at the Huntington Town Board Meeting on Tues., March 31st. Please email or call the Huntington Town Board NOW and urge them to support the extension of the pilot program! (See contact info below.)

Councilwoman Cergol sponsored the resolution that created the pilot program, which has been running successfully since Jan. 1st. (To read more about the program and why the Town Board approved leashed dogs on a trial basis, go to Huntington Opens Heckscher Park to Leashed Dogs!)

The pilot program has been going well with no problems reported by the Town’s Public Safety and Animal Control officers. Any minor issues brought to the attention of the program’s oversight committee, which includes Councilwoman Cergol and her staff as well as representatives from LI-DOG have been addressed, according to the resolution. For example, one concern about dogs sitting on park benches meant for people has been addressed with a proposed new rule that dogs are not allowed on the benches.

LI-DOG’s experience is that dog owners are happy and excited about finally being able to walk their dogs in Huntington’s main community park and they are hoping the program will be extended into the summer. A report submitted by Huntington dog owner Karen Thomas on behalf of LI-DOG and the Park Ambassadors who hand out flyers and let dog owners know about the pilot program in the park notes:

  • Most dog owners are generally aware of the rules (To see the rules, get the Card Flyer Heckscher Pilot Program.)
  • Dog owners are following the rules and will pass the word on to others.
  • Off-leash dogs are a rare occurrence.
  • Dog waste is not a problem.
  • Goose droppings on the paths appear to be reduced.
  • The dog population is not excessive, even on busy weekends.

One issue that needs more attention is that some dog owners need further education on keeping the paths clear and allowing others to pass, especially when distracted or talking to other dog owners. Also, some dog owners continue to use retractable leashes. The rule is dogs must be on a 6′ maximum leash, as people have been tripped up by retractables in the past. Please help spread the word about these issues to other dog owners!

What You Can Do: While the pilot program appears to be working well for all park users, it’s important that Town Board members hear from those of us who support leashed dogs in Heckscher Park. Please email or call Huntington Town Board members TODAY, tell them what it means to you and your dog to be able to walk in Heckscher Park, and urge them to support the extension of the pilot program!

Huntington Town Board members to call or send emails to with your support for the Heckscher Park Leashed Dog Pilot Program:

Hon. Chad A. Lupinacci, Supervisor, Town Hall, 100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone: (631) 351-3030

Hon. Joan Cergol, Councilwoman, Town Hall, 100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone: (631) 351-3173

Hon. Mark Cuthbertson, Councilman, Town Hall, 100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone: (631) 351-3172

Hon. Edmund J.M. Smyth, Councilman, Town Hall, 100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone: (631) 351-3175

Hon. Eugene Cook, Councilman, Town Hall, 100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone: (631) 351-3174

Thank you for your support!


12/3/2019 – President’s 2019 Annual Report

2019 Another Very Good Year for LI-DOG, Says President

The following is a modified version of the President’s 2019 Report to the LI-DOG Board of Directors

We played a key role in getting on-leash access to Heckscher Park—an important, long-standing goal for Huntington dog owners—and we played an important role in helping get a new dog park built in Bayville in the Town of Oyster Bay.
In addition, we organized 12 very successful dog-friendly events that not only raised critical financial resources, but also continued our reputation for fun, well-managed events for dog owners and their pups. Our finances are in great shape, and we got good media coverage this year, especially in Newsday, which helps spread the word about who we are and what we do.
In both successful attempts to get more access to parks, LI-DOG provided key knowledge and resources to campaigns started by other dog owners. In the case of Heckscher Park, a petition to get access to the park was started by a Huntington dog owner who runs her own PR firm. She already was doing a great job getting signatures on the petition and media coverage of the campaign. LI-DOG was able to strengthen the campaign by using our email list and social media to raise awareness of the effort and get more signatures on the petition. In addition, because LI-DOG is a formal member of the Huntington Trails Committee, our communications to Town officials in favor of access had added credibility. The petition itself and the fact that it got over 2,000 signatures in a few short weeks was key, but we played an important role in organizing dog owners and making the case for access.
Similarly, when a dog owner from Bayville reached out to LI-DOG for help with her and her colleagues’ efforts to get a dog park there, we were able to step in and provide important resources to the effort. At the time she contacted us, the effort was facing pushback from Village officials on the environmental impact of the dog park. We were able to send over reams of documents showing that dog parks do not harm the environment. The organizers were already terrific advocates for the cause, but we were able to provide critical information when they needed it.
While LI-DOG did not start either of these two campaigns, the role we played was important. These campaigns represent a natural evolution of our role and our organization’s purpose. Because of our experience and resources, LI-DOG can provide the infrastructure on which other people’s campaigns for more access to parks can be built.
As far as what these two developments mean for the coming year, it means we should continue to make sure Long Island dog owners know we are available to help their efforts to get more access to parks and beaches. That means continuing to work to increase LI-DOG’s visibility in the media and among dog owners who are not already on our email list or our social media groups.
We also need to re-engage on our own campaign for more access to beaches. We have identified beaches at Gardiner Park in Suffolk County, Lido Beach West in Hempstead, and several New York State beaches as targets of opportunity. Some of these efforts may simply involve more phone calls and meetings with local officials, but the New York State campaign will likely require more work.
Our campaign for more access to beaches will need more engagement from all of us. It’s just too big an effort for one or two people to lead. It will require all of our organizing skills as well as more volunteers. Without those, this big goal of ours will not be met.
That being said, we should all be very proud of what LI-DOG has accomplished this year. Today, Long Island dog owners have more dog parks and more dog-friendly parks to enjoy than ever before. In addition to the dog park in Bayville, Suffolk County opened a new dog park in Gardiner Park and North Hempstead opened a dog park at Michael Tully Park. This situation is the result of more dog-friendly elected officials as well as years of our hard work and effort.
Before ending my remarks, I want to highlight the outstanding job our colleagues Marie Amsterdam and Joann Garguola have done with our events this year—more than 12, including 9 Pack Walks and 3 successful fundraisers. Their creativity, great organizational and communications skills, and their willingness to donate hours of their time have made our events not only popular with other dog owners, but also key to our ability to raise enough money to fulfill our mission. Thank you, Marie and Joann!
And, thank you to all of you [the LI-DOG Board of Directors] for continuing to contribute your time and resources to making 2019 another great year for LI-DOG!

12/30/2019 – Huntington Opens Heckscher Park to Leashed Dogs

Huntington Opens Heckscher Park to Leashed Dogs!


Pilot program sponsored by Councilwoman Joan Cergol includes educational campaign aided by LI-DOG 


The Pond at Huntington’s Heckscher Park

A pilot program to allow leashed dogs in Huntington’s Heckscher Park started January 1, 2020! The pilot program is the result of a resolution sponsored by Huntington Councilwoman Joan Cergol and passed unanimously by the Huntington Town Board on Oct. 16th, 2019. The resolution establishes a three-month pilot program with the expectation is that if the first three months are successful, the pilot will be extended for another three months and so on throughout the year.

In order to make sure the pilot program is a success, Councilwoman Cergol is working with the Long Island Dog Owners Group (LI-DOG) on an educational campaign to spread the word about common sense rules for the park.

The educational campaign includes:

  • An explanatory video featuring Councilwoman Cergol and her beautiful boxer, Dempsey. (See Councilwoman Cergol’s Video now.)
  • Detailed signage to be installed at all park entrances.
  • An at-a-glance card flyer detailing the rules.
  • A dedicated cadre of LI-DOG volunteers who will serve as ambassadors in the park, handing out the card and answering questions from dog owners and persons without dogs. (If you would like to serve as an LI-DOG park ambassador, email
  • Installation of dog waste bag dispensers at the park.

“The key to this program’s success is dog owners understanding what is allowed and respecting the rights of all people who want to enjoy Huntington’s signature park, both with and without dogs,” Councilwoman Cergol said. “That’s the main thrust of our educational campaign.”

“LI-DOG’s members understand that bringing their dogs to Heckscher is a privilege that we would like to see become permanent,” said Ginny Munger Kahn, LI-DOG’s president. “Our volunteers want to make sure that all dog owners understand their responsibility to make this program work.”


The rules, as noted in both the signage and the information card, require dog owners to:

  • Keep dogs on leash (maximum 6 feet) and under control. No retractable leashes.
  • Pick up and properly dispose of dog waste.
  • Yield to all other park goers on the paths by stepping off the path.
  • Keep dogs out of the playground, picnic areas and tennis courts and the ball field, when in use.
  • Keep dogs quiet during events at the Harry Chapin Rainbow Stage.
  • Avoid wildlife for their safety and their dog’s.
  • Keep dogs out of the plantings and the pond.
  • Have dogs licensed and vaccinated.
  • Have no more than two dogs per handler.
  • Respect other park goers so the park is a good experience for everyone!

Park-goers with safety concerns are advised to call the Town’s 24-hour Public Safety number, 631-351-3234.

“We want everyone to be able to enjoy the beauty and serenity of Heckscher Park and the rules established for this program should ensure that this remains the case,” said Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci. “Please let us know about your experience with the 90-day dog-walking pilot program so that we can fully assess the success of this program at the end of March.”

Councilman Mark Cuthbertson said, “Combining this pilot program with an educational campaign will give us the feedback from residents we need to ensure that everyone can enjoy the park.”

Councilman Eugene Cook said, “Over the years many people have reached out to the Town Board asking to remove the Heckscher Park ban on allowing dogs in the park.  As these residents would like to enjoy using Heckscher Park with their families, including their canine companions, as they have been able to do at other locations without incident for years.  As a dog owner, I understand the strong relationship between an owner and their companion. This pilot program to allow leashed dogs in Heckscher Park will build on those relationships, and it will also be a benefit for our community as a whole.  In order to ensure that this is properly implemented, I would like to hear all of our resident’s comments, concerns, and suggestions during the pilot period so that we can ensure this program can continue in the future or not.”

Councilman Ed Smith said, “I encourage pilot programs. It gives the residents and elected officials the opportunity to work together on programs within the Town to meet everyone’s needs and pleasures.”

The different facets of the educational program were worked out by a committee that included representatives from various Town departments and LI-DOG; Karen Thomas, who organized the petition drive asking for dogs to be allowed in the park; and Len Urban, from the Town’s Citizens Advisory Committee on Persons with Disabilities. The Citizens Advisory Committee wanted to ensure that a dog-friendly Heckscher remained friendly for everyone, including persons with mobility issues.

“I thank LI-DOG and all of the members of the committee for creating this educational program and I appreciate the dedication of the volunteer ambassadors,” Councilwoman Cergol said.

For more information about the pilot program, call Councilwoman Cergol’s office at 631-351-3173 or email LI-DOG at

And if you plan to walk your dog to Heckscher Park, please volunteer to become an LI-DOG Park Ambassador! Help us make the pilot program a success by emailing us at

Thank you for your support!


10/11/2019 – Resolution to Allow On-Leash Dog Walking at Heckscher Park!

Resolution Introduced to Allow On-Leash Dog Walking in Huntington’s Heckscher Park!


Pilot Program Proposal is Result of Successful Petition to Allow Leashed Dogs in Heckscher Park


People would be allowed to walk their dogs on-leash in Heckscher Park under a pilot program proposed by Huntington Councilwoman Joan Cergol. The pilot program is included in a resolution introduced by Councilwoman Cergol and is scheduled to be considered at the Wed., Oct. 16th Town Board meeting. Thank you, Councilwoman Cergol!

All interested Huntington dog owners are invited to attend! No need to speak, just show up in numbers. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, located at 100 Main St., Huntington, NY 11743.

Councilwoman Cergol’s resolution is the result of an online petition that has gotten more than 2,000 signatures since it was posted in late August. Started by Huntington dog owner and PR pro Karen Thomas, the petition asks the Town Board to make Heckscher Park a dog-friendly park by allowing leashed dogs. While 2,000 signatures is great, we are still looking for more signatures, especially from Huntington residents. The Town Board needs to see overwhelming public support for making Heckscher Park dog friendly. Sign the petition NOW! 

The petition notes that a dog-friendly park policy works well in nearby Northport Village Park keeping the park clean of goose droppings, creating a socially-friendly environment, and supporting local businesses. “Northport Harbor Park has allowed leashed dogs for years and is very busy with happy dog owners walking their dogs and enjoying events at the park,” noted Thomas. “But outdated laws have prohibited Huntington’s dog owners from walking their leashed dogs (in Heckscher Park), making the paths virtually empty when there are no events…and covered every day with goose droppings.”

The Town of Huntington opened virtually all its parks to leashed dogs in August 2017. The policy has proven both popular and successful. However, in opening virtually all town parks to leashed dogs, the Town carved out an exception for Heckscher Park, saying there was concern the park was too busy to accommodate dog owners and their pups.

In order to address that concern, the resolution maintains restrictions on dogs in the playground, in picnic areas, on the ball fields when they are in use, and in other active recreation areas. This is consistent with park policy throughout the town. The resolution also states that on-leash dog walking will be allowed on the walkway surrounding Heckscher Park Pond under the strict rule that dog owners yield to other pedestrians on the path. This also is consistent with town rules that require dog owners to keep dogs on leash and under control and that dogs yield to other park users on trails.

Restricting dogs from active recreation areas, having dogs on leash and under control at all times, and yielding to other park users on the paths should address any remaining concerns about allowing leashed dogs in Heckscher Park, said Ginny Munger Kahn, president of LI-DOG. “The leashed dogs policy works well in Northport, not to mention thousands of other community parks around the country,” she added. “There’s no reason to think Heckscher Park should be different.”

In an important first, Councilwoman Cergol’s resolution would also allow leashed dogs in the area around the Harry Chapin Rainbow Stage during events, provided dogs remain quiet and are in no way disruptive.

The resolution would also set up a public education campaign to help inform everyone about the pilot program, its rules and responsibilities. LI-DOG and other dog owners have volunteered to help create, promote and participate in such a public education campaign.

If the resolution is approved, the pilot program would start January 1, 2020 and run for one year. The Director of the Dept. of Parks & Recreation with input from the Dept. of Planning & Environment are to report back to the Town Board by Nov. 30, 2020, with any recommendations on the pilot program. At that time adjustments can be made.

In 2017, Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone was quoted saying if the town’s dog-friendly park policy proved successful, the town would consider expanding it to other parks. Since that time, the policy has proven both popular and successful, with no reported incidents or issues.

“Northport Park…has demonstrated consistently that dog owners can be responsible and dogs can coexist in a park environment provided they are leashed at all times and waste is picked up…It’s worth at least a trial period,” wrote Loretta Milanese of Centerport in signing the petition. To read more great comments from people who have signed the petition, go to Quotes from Petition Signers 8-19.

Given the intense interest Huntington residents have demonstrated in being able to walk their leashed dogs in Heckscher Park, the steps that have been taken to address concerns, and the ability to adjust the pilot program as needed, LI-DOG is urging the Town Board to support the resolution to create a pilot program to allow leashed dogs in Heckscher Park.

“It’s time to let Huntington dog owners enjoy this wonderful public recreational resource just like every other Huntington resident,” said Munger Kahn.

What You Can Do:
Please let Supervisor Chad Lupinacci and the other members of the Huntington Town Board know that you support allowing leashed dogs in Heckscher Park and why you’re reaching out to them. The more calls and emails elected officials get, the more likely the resolution will pass! Please call or email the following elected officials NOW:

Hon. Chad A. Lupinacci, Supervisor
Town Hall (Room 200)
100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743
Phone: (631) 351-3030

Hon. Joan Cergol, Councilwoman (please thank Councilwoman Cergol!)
Town Hall (Room 303)
100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743
Phone: (631) 351-3173

Hon. Mark Cuthbertson, Councilman
Town Hall (Room 303)
100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743
Phone: (631) 351-3172

Hon. Edmund J.M. Smyth, Councilman
Town Hall (Room 303)
100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743
Phone: (631) 351-3175

Hon. Eugene Cook, Councilman
Town Hall (Room 303)
100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743
Phone: (631) 351-3174

The more calls and emails our elected officials get, the more likely they’ll approve the pilot program. Let your voice be heard!

07/24/2019 – Gardiner Dog Park Opening

Gardiner Dog Park Opening Set for Wed., July 24th at 2:30 p.m.!

Google Map

Large New Dog Park Features Large Dog, Small Dog and Agility Training Areas


Photo Credit: Jeanine Chang

The Grand Opening of a large, new dog park in Suffolk County’s popular Gardiner Park, Bay Shore, is set for Wed., July 24th at 2:30 pm!

The dog park is the result of the efforts of New York State Senator Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) and NYS Senator Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood), both of whom will be in attendance along with Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Suffolk Parks Commissioner Phil Berdolt.

The dog park features three sections: an 80′ x 300′ small dog area; a 120′ x 300′ large dog area and a 40′ x 100′ agility training area. The provision of an agility training area is a first for a Suffolk County dog park, noted Parks Commissioner Berdolt. Each of the sections will be completely fenced by 4′ high black vinyl coated chain link fence. In addition, two watering locations have been installed.

The total dog recreation site will cover 64,000 square feet or about one and a half acres. In an effort to provide shade during the summer and a more natural setting, many of the existing trees have been left in place, the Parks Commissioner added.

The funds for the new dog park came from a $200,000 grant obtained by Sen. Boyle. “This is something I’ve thought about for a long time,” said the Senator whose family owns a toy Fox Terrier named Olivia. “It’s a beautiful park to begin with and I’ve gone to Gardiner often with my dog to walk her on-leash, but I always thought it would be a nice place for a dog run.” The west side of Islip has long needed an off-leash area, he added.

Senator Boyle worked with former Suffolk Legislator and now NYS Senator Monica Martinez on the project. Senator Martinez sponsored the resolution in the Suffolk County Legislature to accept the grant and authorize the dog park.

As is the case for all Suffolk County parks, on-leash dog walking will continue to be allowed throughout Gardiner Park. Some dog owners had been told that on-leash dog walking was at risk as a result of the new dog park. However, in a statement to LI-DOG, Commissioner Berdolt noted: “This is our most utilized park for patrons and their pets. We will continue to keep this park an on-leash friendly park.”

“I can’t speak highly enough of the job Suffolk County has done building the dog park,” added Sen. Boyle. “This will be a very special place and I can’t tell you how happy I am it’s finally coming to fruition.”

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Please let Sen. Boyle and Sen. Martinez know how much you appreciate their work to get a beautiful new dog park created in Gardiner Park. Email Sen. Boyle at: or call 631-665-2311; Email Sen. Martinez at or call 631-360-3356.

Please also let Suffolk Parks Commissioner Phil Berdolt know what a great job the Parks Dept. has done building yet another, big, beautiful dog park in Suffolk County! Email Commissioner Berdolt at or call 631-854-4985.

Help make sure Gardiner Park works for all park patrons by keeping your dogs leashed unless you are in the dog park itself. Also, as always, please remember to clean up after your dog.

For more information: Get the Suffolk Parks Dept. Gardiner Dog Park Opening flyer.

Thank you for your support!

07/20/2018 – Dog Exclusion Zone at Mud Creek Unworkable


Line of Fencing at Mud Creek

Fencing at Mud Creek Off-Leash Beach

Dog Exclusion Zone Created at Mud Creek–Suffolk’s ONLY Off-Leash Beach!

LI-DOG Asks Suffolk Legislator to Restore the Beach: Dog Exclusion Zone is Unsafe, Unworkable and Unfair

On May 1, 2018, 530 feet of fencing was installed to create a dog exclusion zone at Mud Creek County Park in E. Patchogue—the ONLY official off-leash beach on Long Island! The fencing, which cost $13,000 and cuts the beachfront in half, is the work of Suffolk County Legislator Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue). Leg. Calarco represents the 7th District, which covers Patchogue, Medford and Middle Island among other communities.

In an email to constituents, Leg. Calarco wrote the fencing was installed “to meet the needs of community members who are not dog people…and no longer felt comfortable using this area.”  While Leg. Calarco said he understands “this compromise may not be perfect,” he added, “it’s the best solution for all interested parties.”

LI-DOG argues the dog exclusion zone is not a “compromise” as LI-DOG and other dog owners were never notified or asked to provide any input on the project. “To take away so much of this singular resource without consulting dog owners is undemocratic and unfair,” said LI-DOG President Ginny Munger Kahn.” It would be like creating a playground for kids then suddenly taking away half of it to make a basketball court for adults. Dog owners are upset.”

Three Dogs in Water at Mud Creek Beacvh

Dogs Playing at Mud Creek Off-Leash Beach

On June 6th, LI-DOG was invited to sit down with Leg. Calarco to discuss the situation and potential solutions. At that meeting, LI-DOG urged the Legislator to do away with the dog exclusion zone and restore the beach to its original purpose. The off-leash beach at Mud Creek was designated a natural borders dog park in August 2009 as a result of the Five New Dog Parks bill passed unanimously by the Suffolk County Legislature in May 2007.

In addition to dividing the beachfront in half, the dog exclusion zone creates a new entry point for dog owners that is further north on Roe Avenue. The new entrance requires dog owners and their dogs to traverse all 530 feet of fence line and sand before being able to access the waterfront. The Mud Creek site formerly was used by the Town of Brookhaven to dump recycled glass and other debris. Broken glass has often been found in this large stretch of sand.

Satellite View of Mud Creek with Dog Exclusion Zone

Suffolk Parks Commissioner Phil Berdolt added that the County intends to install snow fencing between the chain link fence and the water. Right now, because of legal restrictions, the chain link fence stops short of the water thereby leaving an open beach front with no natural barriers to running and swimming dogs. (Please note: On Aug. 4th, LI-DOG and local dog owners were told the Parks Dept. has decided NOT to install snow fencing in response to LI-DOG’s requests.)

In asking for the restoration of the beach to its original purpose, LI-DOG argued the current situation is unsafe, unworkable and unfair.

– It is unsafe to make people walk across 530 feet of glass-strewn sand in sandals.

– It is unsafe to make pets walk across the sand as glass can cut their paws and the sands gets very hot and will burn their paws.

– Installing snow fencing between the chain link fence and the water will create a dangerous situation as dogs will still be able to swim around the fence or dig under the fence into the soft sand thereby separating dogs from their owners with no quick way for owners to help their pets.

– The situation is unworkable. Neither the dog exclusion zone nor the off-leash area can be secured without creating a dangerous situation. Yet, on one side you have people who are “uncomfortable around dogs” and on the other side you have off-leash dogs who can’t distinguish the off-leash beach from the exclusion zone.

– The situation is unfair to Suffolk County residents. It takes a beach accessible to all Suffolk County residents and closes half of it for use by people who live nearby, thereby creating a “private” beach for a few local residents. Mud Creek belongs to all County residents, not just those who can afford to live a short walk away!

– The situation is unfair as it exposes dog owners to steep fines as high as $200 if people complain about dog owners letting their dogs do what the beach was designed for—swim and run off-leash—and Park Rangers are sent to enforce the dog-exclusion zone.

– The dog exclusion zone was created in an unfair and undemocratic fashion with no public notice, no public hearings and no input from the people who use the park on this major change in its use.

– The dog exclusion zone is a waste of taxpayer money. The county spent $13,000 installing 530 feet of fencing that fails to serve its purpose–allow local residents to walk the beach without coming into contact with off-leash dogs. The zone is too small for walking, it is covered by poison ivy and water at high tide, and it cannot be secured without creating a dangerous situation, noted Janie Dill, a local dog owner who frequents the beach and has written a letter about this issue to Suffolk County Legislator William Lindsay III. Leg. Lindsay represents the 8th District in Islip and serves as Vice Chair of the Legislature’s Parks Committee.

The depth of feeling among dog owners about how unworkable and unfair this is is evident in the more than 340 signatures—the biggest component comes from Leg. Calarco’s 7th District—that LI-DOG has gathered on its petition asking for the restoration of the beach. Get the petition to Preserve Mud Creek Off-Leash Beach now!

It’s important people understand before the creation of the dog exclusion zone everyone, including nearby residents, had access to the beach, noted Bill Gillis who wrote LI-DOG’s follow up letter to Leg. Calarco after the meeting. Indeed,” we have seen local residents who come to fish, walk and enjoy the beach, most of whom enjoy seeing the dogs playing,” he noted. Creating the dog exclusion zone has now actually taken away access for a large number of Suffolk County residents who treasure Mud Creek as their only off-leash dog beach.

In response to LI-DOG’s arguments, Leg. Calarco asked that we give the dog exclusion zone “a season…to see if it can work.” If there are complaints, he said, he will “rethink it.” When LI-DOG raised concerns that the longer the dog exclusion zone stays in effect, the more likely conflicts will arise between people in the zone and everyone else, Leg. Calarco vowed he would not seek to eliminate the off-leash beach.

In the meantime, LI-DOG has made two recommendations:

– That the snow fencing NOT be installed in order to avoid creating a dangerous situation in which people are separated from their pets. (Thanks to Leg. Calarco and Suffolk Parks for responding to our serious concerns about the snow fencing. )

– That people be allowed to walk their dogs on-leash through the dog exclusion zone to access the water, thereby avoiding the glass-strewn sand.

What You Can Do:

It’s very important that dog owners let Leg. Calarco know the current situation is unworkable and unfair. Let the Legislator know the benefit of listening to the concerns of hundreds of Suffolk County residents who own dogs and want the beach restored to its original purpose. Let Leg. Calarco know this is a critical issue for dog owners and that support for dog-friendly policies is a key consideration in your support for elected officials.

Please urge Leg. Calarco to work with LI-DOG and local dog owners to come to a solution that:

– Preserves the County’s intent to dedicate an off-leash beach for dog owners and their pups at Mud Creek as a result of legislation passed in 2007.

– That meets the needs of dog owners for a safe place to let their dogs run and swim off-leash without fear of conflicts with other park users and summonses and fines.

Contact Leg. Calarco:

By phone at 631-854-1400 (Calls are the easiest, but most powerful way to send a message). Please be polite.

By Email at Don’t forget to forward a copy of your email to LI-DOG at so we can see how we’re doing with our campaign.

By Letter at Suffolk County Legislator Robert Calarco, 90 W. Main St., Suite 2N, Patchogue, NY 11772

If you’re a resident of Leg. Calarco’s District 7 make sure Leg. Calarco knows that! If you’re a Suffolk County resident, remind Leg. Calarco Mud Creek is for ALL County residents.

Want to increase your impact?

Download the petition and help LI-DOG get signatures to Protect Mud Creek Off-Leash Beach  Mail back petitions with signatures to:

P.O. Box 1171
Huntington, NY 11743

Then, help spread the word by getting the Flyer Dog Exclusion Zone Created at Mud Creek.

The more support we can show for restoring the off-leash beach, the more likely we’ll get a solution that meets the needs of dog owners!

Thank you for your support!

05/07/2018 – Dog Exclusion Zone at Mud Creek Off-Leash Beach


East West Fence Line; Photo Credit Alphonse Guardino

Dog-Exclusion Zone Created at Mud Creek–Long Island’s ONLY Official Off-Leash Beach

A long line of fencing that creates a dog-exclusion zone has gone up at Mud Creek County Park–Long Island’s ONLY official off-leash beach–in E. Patchogue. The fencing, which appeared on May 1st and runs approximately 530 feet, cuts the beachfront available to dog owners and their pups in half.

Mud Creek’s off-leash beach was created for dog owners in August 2009 as a result of the Five New Dog Parks bill passed unanimously by the Suffolk County Legislature in May 2007 and in response to Suffolk residents’ requests for safe places to exercise and socialize their dogs. At this time, Mud Creek is the only official Suffolk County off-leash beach. “To take away so much of this singular resource for dog owners and their pups without even consulting us is not fair,” said Ginny Munger Kahn, president of LI-DOG. “It would be like creating a soccer field for kids and then suddenly taking half away for adult recreation. Dog owners are upset,” she noted.

Satellite View of Mud Creek with Dog-Exclusion Zone; Photo Credit Alphonse Guardino

What You Can Do: Let local elected officials and Parks Dept. officials know what you think about creating a dog-exclusion zone on the ONLY off-leash beach on Long Island. (See contact information below.) To spread the word and increase our impact: Download the Mud Creek Petition and Mud Creek Petition Signature Form, sign the form, and share it with your dog-loving family and friends.

The fencing is the work of the Suffolk County Parks Dept. and Suffolk County Legislator Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue), who represents District 7, which covers Patchogue, Medford and Middle Island among other communities. In an email to a local dog owner who asked what was behind the new fencing, Leg. Calarco responded: “This was done as a way to meet the needs of some of the community members who are not dog people…and who no longer felt comfortable using this area. The fenced area is intended to give those local residents an area at the park they can utilize apart from the dog park.”

“Dog owners are willing to share park resources,” said LI-DOG’s President, “but this is the ONLY official off-leash beach in all of Suffolk County. By contrast, local residents who do not wish to come into contact with dogs have multiple, beautiful beaches available to them nearby and throughout Long Island,” she noted.

Leg. Calarco also discussed alleged complaints from neighbors about loose dogs leaving the park in an April 2016 Suffolk Legislature meeting. In a March 2016 Long Island Advance article, neighbors suggested a fence to close off the dog park from the road. However, the new fence does not prevent dogs from leaving the park, but instead cuts across the first half of the beach to create a dog-exclusion zone.

In addition to dividing the beachfront in half, the new dog-exclusion zone creates a new entry point for dog owners. The new gated entry is further north on Roe Ave and requires dog owners and their dogs to traverse all 530 feet of fence line and sand before being able to access the waterfront. Not only does the sand get quite hot during the summer, which is tough on animals’ paws, but broken glass has often been found in this large stretch of sand, thereby putting dog owners and their dogs at increased risk of injury.

The fencing poses additional risks and raises additional safety and enforcement issues. The fencing currently stops well short of the water, leaving an open beach with no obvious barrier to prevent dogs from entering the dog-exclusion zone. “How is my dog supposed to know where this invisible line in the sand is?” asked Bill Gillis, a local dog owner who frequents Mud Creek on a regular basis and wrote the Mud Creek petition. “Are we dog owners going to be ticketed and fined for letting our dogs do what this park was designed for—allowing our pups to run and swim off-leash?”

It would also be a bad idea to extend the fence line into the water. If a dog swam around or dug under the loose sand under the fence, dog owners would not be able to quickly rescue their pets raising the potential for serious harm to their dog.

Since 2009, local dog owners have worked voluntarily to clean up and maintain the beach at Mud Creek. The site formerly was used by the Town of Brookhaven to dump recycling and dredge waste. This waste material–glass and other trash–is regularly uncovered by wind and water action. Dog owners including LI-DOG have worked diligently over the years to organize clean ups and clean up the beach themselves. “Here we’ve done all these cleanups and now that the beach is nice, the results of our work have been taken away and turned over to those who were not involved in the beach’s transformation,” said Janie Dill, another dog owner who frequents Mud Creek. “We need a solution that takes into consideration dog owners’ care and concern for this park,” she said.

It’s time for dog owners to stand up and protect the off-leash beach at Mud Creek. Please call, email or write Leg. Calarco and let him know what you think about creating a dog-exclusion zone on the ONLY off-leash beach on Long Island. Ask Leg. Calarco to work with LI-DOG and local dog owners to come to solution that preserves the off-leash beach the County created at Mud Creek Park and that meets the needs of Suffolk dog owners for a safe, comfortable, and practical off-leash area.

Contact Information for Leg. Calarco:
Call: 631-854-1400
Write: Suffolk County Leg. Robert Calarco, 90 W. Main St., Suite 2N, Patchogue, NY 11772

Don’t forget to include your address, especially if you’re a resident of District 7, which includes Patchogue, Medford and Middle Island, or are a resident of Suffolk County. This is a beach for ALL Suffolk residents after all.

Remember: Calls are the easiest, but most powerful way to send a message! Please always be polite.

Contact Information for Suffolk Parks Dept:
Call: 631-854-4949
Write: Suffolk Parks Dept., P.O. Box 144, W. Sayville, NY 11796

Want to Spread the Word and Boost Your Impact? Download the Mud Creek Petition and Mud Creek Petition Signature Form, sign the form and pass it around to your dog-loving friends and family. Once you’ve got a few pages of signatures, either meet us at a dog-friendly venue in Patchogue (we’ll set up times to gather petitions) or send the completed forms to:

P.O. Box 1171
Huntington, NY 11743

Want to volunteer to help us gather signatures in District 7 specifically? Email us at and we’ll put you in touch with our organization team!

To keep up-to-date on what’s happening at Mud Creek, check back here or the Mud Creek Dog Park Facebook Group.

Thank you for your help and support for the Mud Creek Off-Leash Beach!

01/05/2018 – Six Steps to Avoid Conflicts at the Dog Park

Six Steps for Avoiding Conflicts at the Dog Park

By Sam Desmond***

We’ve all been there as a pet parent, especially if you bring Fido to the dog park. Someone has accused your beloved fur baby of bad behavior and you’re foaming at the mouth in defense.  The insults come and you’ve lost control of the situation.  The exact opposite of your intentions has now happened—you’ve turned the social scene your dog whimpers in the car for into a place of contention and anxiety.

Debra and her dog Jezebelle

Debra Hamilton, a former Westchester litigator who now practices mediation and conflict resolution for people in disputes over animals and is the founder of Hamilton Law & Mediation in Armonk, NY, gave an informative and effective presentation to LI-DOG’s November 16, 2017 meeting at the Plainview Public Library on how to avoid fruitless, confrontational episodes with fellow dog park attendees, neighbors, and even those soulless wonders who ‘just don’t like dogs’.

The key mantra of Hamilton’s presentation was to remember that our gifted, intuitive dogs will always feed off our energy and even if it means, “being right second,” we need to remain calm and act in their best interest. Drawing from her experience with contention, diametrically opposed positions, and fierce, maternal love as a PTA Vice President, Hamilton has devised tools and methodologies for keeping your best paw forward during heated situations involving our canine kids.

Two handy, mnemonic terms to remember in addressing such situations are “AKA” and “Stop, Drop, and Roll.”  AKA stands for Address the Problem; Keep the Relationship; Appreciate and Acknowledge the Other Party. Together, these two terms make six easy steps for addressing conflicts and resolving issues over animals at the dog park, in your neighborhood, and even within your family!

  1. Address the Problem.

Often our knee-jerk response to a complaint about our dog is: “Are you kidding me? Learn about dog behavior!” or “That person’s just a psychopath!” Instead, Hamilton advises focusing on the problem, not the person. Use inclusive terms like “our dogs” as in “we need to talk about our dogs for their safety,” because “your” or “my” instantly shuts off receptive listening in both parties. Also, instead of making accusations, ask questions and ask for more information. For example, instead of starting with “Your dog is vicious,” ask “What happened? Did you see him or her snap or seem to bite?”

  1. Keep the Relationship

Of course you don’t want to have to stop coming to the dog park or have a neighbor you have to avoid every time you get the newspaper. Hamilton reminds us “not to kill the messenger” and to learn to talk to someone who doesn’t agree with you. For example, genuinely see the other person as an individual with needs and/or someone who also loves their dog. For example, “I can tell you love your dog very much and are concerned for his or her safety.”  Or for a neighbor complaining about your dog, “I understand you work nights and to be awoken by a dog barking in the early morning is disruptive to your sleep.”

  1. Appreciate and Acknowledge the Other Party.

Appreciate and acknowledge the other person’s feelings. Appreciation does not equal agreement, Hamilton noted. To appreciate the other person’s feelings, your go-to phrase should be, “Please tell me more.” Often the opportunity to speak allows the other person to calm down enough to actually talk. Also, when responding, don’t start with “no” or “but” but rather, “Yes, I can see how you might interpret that behavior to be predatory and why it’s alarming to you. My dog’s breed is high energy and very playful as a result.” The key is to avoid adding fuel to the fire by saying things you will regret later. “Sometimes it’s okay to be right second,” said Hamilton.

  1. Stop.

Stop talking. Just listen. This shifts the momentum of the conflict. Often people run themselves out of anger when they are allowed to expel all their grievances. Plus, if there’s no aggression to respond to, the other person may have to acknowledge the overreaction they’re guilty of. And you look like the better person to onlookers (i.e. the pack supports you!) Plus, listen for solutions and be solution-oriented.

  1. Drop.

Drop the need to be right first. Focus on the bigger picture, which is the well-being of your dog. Again, being right second is okay, said Hamilton.

  1. Roll.

Let criticisms roll off your back the way your beloved fur baby does. Go with what’s being presented to you and channel it back to positivity. Then, choose the time to respond. Do not respond in the moment and regret what you said later, said Hamilton. It’s all about reining in your emotions, learning how to ask questions and listening, she said.

Socialization is quite the adventure for everyone, but we can hedge the arguments by being present with our dogs (i.e. don’t be on your phone at the dog park!) and acknowledging (unbelievable as it is) that not everyone will automatically see Fido as the loving mush you know him to be.

For more tools and techniques for dealing with disputes over animals, pick up a copy of Hamilton’s book Nipped in the Bud, Not the Butt: How to Use Mediation to Resolve Conflicts over Animals, available on Amazon.

If you follow Hamilton’s suggestions, you’ll likely end up with better relationships and fewer conflicts over your fur baby!

***Sam Desmond is editor-in-chief of arts magazine HiConcept, a features writer for The Bayport-Blue Point Gazette and The Sayville Gazette, and an editorial contributor to LI-DOG. She can be reached at: or 917/532-9460. 



11/08/2017 – North Hempstead Plans 1st Dog Park at Tully Park


North-Hempstead-Tully-Park-SignNorth Hempstead Plans 1st Dog Park at Michael J. Tully Park!

LI-DOG is very pleased to announce that the Town of North Hempstead is planning on opening a dog park at Michael J. Tully Park in New Hyde Park. At an informational meeting on October 25, Town representatives advised local dog owners and other dog park advocates that the Town had budgeted $250,000 for a dog park at Tully Park and was seeking input from the community as to the location and what amenities the park should have. It was a very productive meeting and the Town obviously did its research on what would make an effective park.

Among the topics discussed were ground cover (with artificial turf seeming to be favored) and the importance of tall enough fencing, signs prominently displaying the rules, separate areas for large and small dogs and adequate lighting since the park is open after dark. Participants also expressed a desire for water fountains, shaded areas, benches, agility equipment (which has already been donated to the Town by the Shelter Connection), and Wifi, which the park also already has.

Several locations in the park were also discussed: one area in the back of the park which is close to a recharge basin and tends to be buggy, according to the Town, one site in back of the administration building and a larger grassy area in front of the building. We expressed our opinion that the area in front of the building appears to be the most suitable, and most of the other participants seemed to agree.

The Town indicated that the timetable for the opening of the park would depend on the site chosen, since some would require more prep work, but overall, it appears that by next spring or early summer, dog owners in the Town of North Hempstead will have a new dog park to take their canine companions!

LI-DOG appreciates the efforts taken by North Hempstead to accommodate the growing community of dog owners. In Feb. 2016, the Town approved on-leash dog walking in three Town parks–Mary Jane Davies Green in Manhasset, North Hempstead Beach Park in Roslyn and Michael Tully Park. Go to North Hempstead Approves First Three Dog-Friendly Town Parks to read about the Town’s groundbreaking move. The Town has also held outdoor Doggie Pool Parties at the end of the summer season at Tully Park, which have proven very popular with dog owners and their pups.


11/03/2017 – Nassau County Exec Candidate Martins Commits to Dog Friendly Parks

Nassau County Executive Candidate Jack Martins Expresses Commitment to Dog-Friendly Nassau County Parks


LI-DOG Pack Walk at Massapequa Preserve

Recent LI-DOG Pack Walk at Massapequa Preserve Photo Credit: Joann Garguola

On Sept. 29, 2017, LI-DOG sent a letter  to the two major candidates for Nassau County Executive — former New York State Senator Jack Martins and Nassau County Legislator Laura Curran– asking for a statement of their position regarding on-leash dog walking in Nassau County parks.  LI-DOG has been working with elected officials since 2013 to change Nassau County’s policy so that people can legally walk leashed dogs in Nassau County parks. In April 2016 in response to LI-DOG’s efforts, Nassau County opened several parks to leashed dogs including Massapequa Preserve, Christopher Morley Park, and Mill Pond Park. To read why access to parks is critical for Nassau County dog owners, go to LI-DOG Candidate Statement Request Letter. 

Former NYS Sen. Jack Martins responded to our request with the following statement:

“As​ ​a​ ​dog​ ​owner,​ ​I​ ​am committed ​to​ ​making​ ​sure​ ​that​ ​we​ ​work​ ​with​ ​local​ ​communities​ ​to develop​ ​dog​ ​friendly​ ​parks​.​ ​It’s​ ​not​ ​going​ ​to​ ​be​ ​every​ ​park,​ ​but​ ​where​ ​it’s​ ​appropriate we​ ​will​ ​work​ ​with​ ​local​ ​communities​ and the legislature ​to​ ​create​ ​dog​ ​runs​ in​ ​places​ ​that​ ​are​ ​appropriate​ ​to​ ​bring​ ​a dog​ ​and​ ​certainly​ ​that’s​ ​easy​ ​enough​ ​to​ ​do.​ ​We​ ​do​ ​have​ ​parks​ ​with​ ​dog​ ​runs​ ​now​ and​ ​we​ ​have​ ​to​ ​see​ ​where​ ​it​ would​ ​be​ ​appropriate​ to add more​ ​going​ ​forward​ .”

Nassau County Leg. Laura Curran declined to give a statement, despite several requests from LI-DOG.

What You Can Do Now!

Take this opportunity to let the candidates know how you feel about dog owner access to Nassau County parks! Email Candidate Martins at Email Candidate Curran at Contact the Campaign.

Then, be sure to cast your vote for Nassau County Executive on Election Day–Tuesday, November 7th! 

 Thank you for your support.