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.03/03/2021 – Newsday Profile Ginny Munger Kahn and LI-DOG

 

Photo Credit: Newsday, Steve Pfost

Newsday Profile on LI-DOG President Ginny Munger Kahn Highlights Group’s Strategy and Success

Newsday’s profile on LI-DOG’s President, written by Arlene Gross and published Jan. 28th, puts the spotlight on LI-DOG’s success in working with elected officials to create dog parks in West Hills, Blydenburgh, Eisenhower and Oyster Bay parks as well as on-leash dog walking in Huntington’s Heckscher Park and select Nassau County parks. The extensive profile also includes comments from New York State Assemblyman Steve Stern and Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino describing their work to create dog parks and dog-friendly trails in parks.  For a link to the full Newsday story, go to  Dogs Best Friend: Dix Hills Resident Works for Access at Long Island Parks.

 


03/03/2021 – Newsday Profile Ginny Munger Kahn and LI-DOG

 

Photo Credit: Newsday Steve Pfost

Dogs’ Best Friend: Dix Hills Resident Works for Access at Long Island Parks, Newsday, by Arlene Gross

Profile on LI-DOG President Ginny Munger Kahn Highlights Group’s Strategy and Success

 

Thank you, Arlene Gross and Newsday, for publishing a great profile on LI-DOG President Ginny Munger Kahn on Jan. 28th! The story highlights LI-DOG’s strategy and success in working with elected officials to create 10 dog parks and dozens of dog-friendly trails and parks on Long Island over its 20-plus year history. The profile puts the spotlight on LI-DOG’s efforts to create dog parks in West Hills, Blydenburgh, Eisenhower and Oyster Bay parks as well as its work to get on-leash dog walking approved in Huntington’s Heckscher Park and select Nassau County parks.

The extensive profile, which quotes Ginny’s long-time colleagues Peggy Heijmen and Chris Laubis,  also includes comments from New York State Assemblyman Steve Stern and Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino describing their work with LI-DOG to create dog parks and dog-friendly on-leash walking trails in parks. Among the keys to LI-DOG’s success, the article notes:  avoiding opposition from local communities and persistence. Next up on LI-DOG’s “to dog” list: beach access. To read the full story, go to:  Newsday Dogs Best Friend: Dix Hills Resident Works for Access at Long Island Parks.

 

 


beachpetition

 

Photo Credit: Joann Garguola

Lift the Dog Ban on New York’s Long Island Beaches!

 

Let People Bring Their Dogs to the Beach

 

Sign the Petition NOW!

 

The Long Island Dog Owners Group (LI-DOG) has launched a campaign and online petition to get access to New York State beaches on Long Island. Long Island is surrounded by hundreds of miles of beaches, but the vast majority of this public parkland is off-limits to people with dogs.

The New York State Office of Parks manages 14,000 acres of Long Island parks that have shoreline access. Yet, NYS prohibits ALL access to New York State beaches on Long Island to people with dogs! LI-DOG’s petition on Change.org asks NY Governor Andrew Cuomo and NYS elected officials to lift the ban on dogs on LI beaches.

Denying access to so much recreational space to dog owners who pay taxes that support this public parkland is unacceptable. For many people, walking, running and playing with their dogs outdoors is their main recreational activity. People with dogs have the right to enjoy public parks and beaches just like hikers, bikers, joggers or anyone else.

New York’s ban on dogs on NYS beaches impacts tens of thousands of Long Islanders. It is estimated that 457,000 Long Island families have dogs. Because of New York’s longstanding, outdated policy, these families can’t take their dogs to the beach for exercise and recreation. Veterinarians, trainers and animal behaviorists agree dogs need exercise and socialization for their health and well-being.

The pandemic highlights that access to public parkland is a basic right and need—whether you have a dog or not. During the pandemic, attendance at Long Island’s public parks and beaches soared as people sought safety from the virus and freedom from isolation at home in outdoor spaces. In January, Gov. Cuomo said in his State of the State message that “the ability to safely recreate outdoors will remain a critical complement to public health measures for months,” but Parks officials on LI have closed off thousands of acres of public land to people with dogs.

There is no reason New York State officials cannot find ways to accommodate people with dogs on its Long Island beaches. Parks systems around the country, including those on the East End of Long Island, have found ways to allow people with dogs to enjoy beaches. Long Island dog owners are just as responsible as dog owners in other areas of the country.

Let’s Be Clear: LI-DOG is not asking for access to NYS beaches where people swim and there are lifeguards during the summer. LI-DOG is asking for access to non-lifeguarded beaches and shoreline appropriate for people with dogs.

It’s time for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York State elected officials to lift the ban on dogs on Long Island beaches. Denying access to this major public recreational resource to taxpaying citizens is unacceptable.

The Office of Parks should work with LI-DOG to update its policies by designating appropriate beaches for people to take their dogs for exercise and recreation.

Let people bring their dogs to the beach!

What You Can Do NOW: Sign the Petition on Change.org to Lift the Dog Ban on New York’s Long Island Beaches! Show elected officials how much support there is for allowing people to bring their dogs to the beach.

Share the petition with your friends, family and other dog-loving Long Islanders. Share the link on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The hashtags for our campaign and petition are #DogFriendlyLIBeaches and #LIDogFriendlyBeaches. Feel free to add your own!

Once we reach our initial signature goal, we’ll go for more. The more signatures we get, especially from Long Islanders, the more likely we’ll get what we’re asking for—more access to beaches on Long Island!

Don’t forget, let people know WHY you’re signing the petition and what access to beaches means to you and your dog. Comments from individuals are a powerful way to strengthen our message!

We’ll provide updates on the petition, how we’re doing, and next steps soon. Feel free to get in touch with us at lidog_news@yahoo.com.

Thank you for supporting our campaign and online petition!


.01/15/2021 – Lift the Dog Ban on NY’s LI Beaches!

No Dogs Allowed SignLift the Dog Ban on New York’s Long Island Beaches! LI-DOG Launches Petition to Let People Bring Their Dogs to the Beach

Long Island is surrounded by hundreds of miles of beaches, but the New York State Office of Parks, which manages 14,000 acres of Long Island parks that have shoreline access, prohibits ALL access to NYS beaches on Long Island to people with dogs! Denying access to so much recreational space to dog owners who pay taxes that support this public parkland is not right. People with dogs have the right to enjoy public parks and beaches just like anyone else. Sign LI-DOG’s Petition to Lift the Dog Ban on New York’s LI beaches NOW! For details on the petition and LI-DOG’s efforts to gain access to beaches on LI, go to Lift the Dog Ban on NY’s LI Beaches!

 


01/15/2021 – Lift the Dog Ban on NY’s LI Beaches!

 

Photo Credit: Joann Garguola

Lift the Dog Ban on New York’s Long Island Beaches!

 

Let People Bring Their Dogs to the Beach

 

Sign the Petition NOW!

 

The Long Island Dog Owners Group (LI-DOG) has launched a campaign and online petition to get access to New York State beaches on Long Island. Long Island is surrounded by hundreds of miles of beaches, but the vast majority of this public parkland is off-limits to people with dogs.

The New York State Office of Parks manages 14,000 acres of Long Island parks that have shoreline access. Yet, NYS prohibits ALL access to New York State beaches on Long Island to people with dogs! LI-DOG’s petition on Change.org asks NY Governor Andrew Cuomo and NYS elected officials to lift the ban on dogs on LI beaches.

Denying access to so much recreational space to dog owners who pay taxes that support this public parkland is unacceptable. For many people, walking, running and playing with their dogs outdoors is their main recreational activity. People with dogs have the right to enjoy public parks and beaches just like hikers, bikers, joggers or anyone else.

New York’s ban on dogs on NYS beaches impacts tens of thousands of Long Islanders. It is estimated that 457,000 Long Island families have dogs. Because of New York’s longstanding, outdated policy, these families can’t take their dogs to the beach for exercise and recreation. Veterinarians, trainers and animal behaviorists agree dogs need exercise and socialization for their health and well-being.

The pandemic highlights that access to public parkland is a basic right and need—whether you have a dog or not. During the pandemic, attendance at Long Island’s public parks and beaches soared as people sought safety from the virus and freedom from isolation at home in outdoor spaces. In January, Gov. Cuomo said in his State of the State message that “the ability to safely recreate outdoors will remain a critical complement to public health measures for months,” but Parks officials on LI have closed off thousands of acres of public land to people with dogs.

There is no reason New York State officials cannot find ways to accommodate people with dogs on its Long Island beaches. Parks systems around the country, including those on the East End of Long Island, have found ways to allow people with dogs to enjoy beaches. Long Island dog owners are just as responsible as dog owners in other areas of the country.

Let’s Be Clear: LI-DOG is not asking for access to NYS beaches where people swim and there are lifeguards during the summer. LI-DOG is asking for access to non-lifeguarded beaches and shoreline appropriate for people with dogs.

It’s time for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York State elected officials to lift the ban on dogs on Long Island beaches. Denying access to this major public recreational resource to taxpaying citizens is unacceptable.

The Office of Parks should work with LI-DOG to update its policies by designating appropriate beaches for people to take their dogs for exercise and recreation.

Let people bring their dogs to the beach!

What You Can Do NOW:  Sign the Petition on Change.org to Lift the Dog Ban on New York’s Long Island Beaches! Show elected officials how much support there is for allowing people to bring their dogs to the beach.

Share the petition with your friends, family and other dog-loving Long Islanders. Share the link on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The hashtags for our campaign and petition are #DogFriendlyLIBeaches and #LIDogFriendlyBeaches. Feel free to add your own!

Once we reach our initial signature goal, we’ll go for more. The more signatures we get, especially from Long Islanders, the more likely we’ll get what we’re asking for—more access to beaches on Long Island!

Don’t forget, let people know WHY you’re signing the petition and what access to beaches means to you and your dog. Comments from individuals are a powerful way to strengthen our message!

We’ll provide updates on the petition, how we’re doing, and next steps soon. Feel free to get in touch with us at lidog_news@yahoo.com.

Thank you for supporting our campaign and online petition!


.12/29/2020 – LI-DOG President’s 2020 Report

LI-DOG President’s 2020 Report: Access to Public Parks and Beaches is a Basic Right and Need–Whether You Have a Dog or Not

The year 2020 has been a terrible year for many people, but there were positives as well, especially for dogs. More dogs found new homes, dog owners spent more time with their dogs, and dogs–and their people–got out more. 2020 also saw the realization of one of LI-DOG’s long-time goals–access to Huntington’s pretty Heckscher Park. This pandemic year when people sought refuge in outdoor parks drove home the lesson that access to public parks and beaches is a basic right and need. To read a slightly edited version of the president’s assessment of 2020, go to the LI-DOG President’s 2020 Report. 

 


12/29/2020 – LI-DOG President’s 2020 Report

 

This Year’s Lesson: Access to Public Parks and Beaches is a Basic Right and Need – Whether You Have a Dog or Not

 

LI-DOG President’s 2020 Report to the Board of Directors

The Pond in Huntington’s Heckscher Park Photo Credit: Karen Thomas

The year 2020 has been called terrible names—“the worst year ever,” another “annus horribilis,” and an “expletive deleted-show”.  For good reason. So many people have lost their lives; huge wildfires in California and Australia killed hundreds of people and millions of animals; thousands of businesses have been wrecked; and there have been killings and civil unrest on our streets. It’s resulted in much anxiety, concern and dread for many people.

But 2020 has not all been awful. Out of this terrible year has also come a substantial increase in adoptions of shelter animals. Petco reported a few days ago that since the start of the year, 3.3 million animals have found their way into new homes. In fact, dogs have been winners in the pandemic. Not only are more dogs finding new homes, but their lives are better. Their people are around a lot more and they’re getting more attention. Vet visits are up not only because of new dog parents but also because people are paying closer attention to their pets. Chewy and Petco have reported increases in net sales of toys and leashes. People are getting out with their dogs and giving them exercise, which is healthy for both them and their pups.

Good and bad things have also happened to LI-DOG.

We lost one of our Pack Leaders to COVID this spring. He was a kind and gentle man and his wife, who also helped lead our Walks, is heartbroken. We almost lost another one of our good LI-DOG friends and some of us have had family members seriously affected by this awful disease. We extend our deepest sympathies to all our LI-DOG friends impacted by the pandemic.

Less seriously, but still impactful, because of the virus we had to cancel multiple events including five of our Pack Walks plus our big summer fundraiser and pawty at Off-Key Tikki.

Only because of a very generous donation by Tito’s Vodka for our participation in The Refuge’s Barkin’ Brunch program did our finances not take a hit this year.

In addition we had to put off our beach access campaign when we realized we would not be able to get the attention of elected officials who were dealing with life-and-death issues.

On the other hand, we learned to cope with the virus and were able to take advantage when it retreated for a few months. We were able to hold a few Pack Walks and came up with ways to protect our volunteers and guests with mask requirements, limits on attendance, a new agreement to deter people from showing up with symptoms or other risk factors, plus a safer way to execute our documents by posting them online.

Moreover, even though the pandemic altered the public education effort LI-DOG was in charge of in Huntington’s Heckscher Park, it did not stop us from achieving one of our most welcome victories in recent years –on-leash access to Heckscher Park. This is something Huntington dog owners have wanted for years and because of the online petition Huntington dog owner and PR pro Karen Thomas created on Change.org,  the wise and patient leadership of the campaign by Councilwoman Joan Cergol, and the dedication of the volunteer Park Ambassadors, we made it happen.

The pilot program set up to test on-leash dog walking in the park was extremely successful. That was the result of the efforts of Councilwoman Cergol who created an Oversight Committee to monitor and adjust the pilot program based on input from the community. By the time the Public Hearing was held to make the policy permanent, not one person spoke in opposition. It’s a great model for future campaigns.

There is one other key lesson from this pandemic year, which comes back to why we exist. That is, the importance of access to public parks and beaches. Attendance at public parks and beaches hit record levels this year as people, desperate to escape the confines of their homes and concerned about coming into contact with others in indoor spaces, sought freedom and refuge from the virus in outdoor public spaces. This year underscores that access to public parks and beaches is a basic right and need—whether you have a dog or not.

The importance of our mission is now clearer than ever. It is simply unacceptable to allow state and local jurisdictions to eliminate access to thousands of acres of public parks and beaches to so many Long Island residents—the tens of thousands of us who own dogs and whose main recreational activity is walking, running and playing with our dogs outdoors.

As is clear from the plan we have created for our beach access campaign, this effort is going to take a lot of work. It’s going to be a heavy lift and will require a newfound commitment by all of us to our mission. I know I will be able to count on your support.

Thank you so much for your continuing commitment to LI-DOG.

 

 

 


.11/27/2020 – Huntington Town Board Makes Heckscher Park Permanently Dog-Friendly

Huntington Town Board Votes to Make Heckscher Park Permanently Dog-Friendly!

The Huntington Town Board voted unanimously on Nov. 19th to permanently allow on-leash dog walking in Huntington’s Heckscher Park. The vote came on a resolution sponsored by Councilwoman Joan Cergol who led the effort to allow on-leash dog walking in Huntington’s signature community park. It followed an almost year-long, successful pilot program in which on-leash dog walking gained broad support in the community. For more information on how it happened, go to Huntington Town Board Votes to Make Heckscher Park Permanently Dog Friendly! 

 


11/27/2020 – Huntington Town Board Makes Heckscher Park Dog-Friendly For Good

 

Huntington Town Board Votes to Make Heckscher Park Permanently Dog-Friendly!

 

Unanimous Decision Comes After Successful Year-Long Pilot Program

Photo Credit: Johanna King

The Huntington Town Board voted 5-0 on Nov. 19th to permanently allow on-leash dog walking in Huntington’s Heckscher Park! The vote at a virtual Town Board meeting came on a resolution sponsored by Councilwoman Joan Cergol and seconded by both Supervisor Chad Lupinacci and Councilman Eugene Cook.  Councilwoman Cergol has led the year-long effort to add Heckscher Park to Huntington’s townwide dog-friendly parks policy. Council members Mark Cuthbertson and Ed Smyth also voted in favor.

In seconding Councilwoman Cergol’s resolution, Supervisor Lupinacci noted that the Town Board had gotten “a lot of emails and support” for the resolution and that “it was nice to see [such support].”  Thanks to everyone who responded to LI-DOG’s emails and contacted the Town Board urging them to make Heckscher Park dog-friendly for good!

Thank you also to fellow Huntington dog owner Karen Thomas who created the online petition in Aug. 2019 that got this all started. Also, a big thank you to our volunteer Park Ambassadors—dog owners who helped spread the word about the pilot program and the rules in the park–including Michelle Troiano, Wendy Tullo, Johanna King, Sharyn Julino, Laurence Foray, Elizabeth Madden, Erich Preis, Loary Milanese and Michelle Factor Noonan.

“Walking our dogs on-leash in Heckscher Park is something Huntington dog owners have wanted for years. We are thrilled this has finally happened thanks largely to the efforts of Councilwoman Cergol and our fellow Park Ambassadors,” said LI-DOG President Ginny Munger Kahn.

The vote to permanently allow on-leash dog walking in Heckscher Park came after a successful, almost year-long pilot program in Huntington’s signature community park.  The pilot program was launched by a resolution sponsored by Councilwoman Cergol in Oct. 2019 and renewed three times by the Town Board. It  created a public education effort to bring dog owners in the park up to speed on the new rules for on-leash dog walking, while allowing for an Oversight Committee chaired by Councilwoman Cergol to make adjustments to the program in response to input from the community.

The Oversight Committee included representatives from LI-DOG and the Citizens Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities, volunteer Park Ambassadors, and staff from Huntington’s Dept. of Public Safety and the Division of Animal Control, among others.

LI-DOG noted that Councilwoman Cergol’s responsiveness to concerns raised by the community by adjusting the rules, working with the Dept. of Public Safety, Animal Control and General Services to get the resources needed to respond to these issues, and then Park Ambassadors stepping up their public education efforts were key to the success of the pilot program.

As a result, not only did the pilot program operate successfully through all four seasons of the year, but the policy of allowing leashed dogs in Heckscher Park gained broad support in the community. “Even people who were initially uncomfortable about allowing on-leash dogs in Heckscher Park ended up supporting making the policy permanent,”  noted LI-DOG in a Nov. 2nd Email to the Town Board: Please Support Adding Heckscher to Dog Friendly Parks Policy.

In a significant development on Nov. 5th, the chair of the Huntington Greenway Trails Committee on which LI-DOG serves and which in 2017, recommended opening virtually all Town parks to on-leash dogs, endorsed adding Heckscher Park to the town’s broad dog-friendly parks policy.  In 2017, the committee had exempted Heckscher Park from its recommendation because of concerns about overcrowding. Now, “The Huntington Greenway Trails Committee…unanimously agree[s] that the on-leash dog walking program at Heckscher Park has been extremely successful [and] supports…a change in the town code to allow on-leash dog walking in Heckscher Park.”

The effects of the pilot program on Heckscher Park were summarized in the final Park Ambassadors Report submitted by lead Park Ambassador Karen Thomas and LI-DOG. Among the key findings:

  • Dog owners have been responsible about picking up after their dogs and dog waste is not a problem.
  • Off-leash dogs are a rare occurrence.
  • The dog population is consistently low—usually under 6 dogs throughout the park at any one time.
  • There have been no complaints in recent months about dog owners failing to yield to others on the paths.
  • Complaints about dogs on benches were addressed by updating the rules prohibiting dogs on benches.
  • Goose droppings on the paths have been reduced because of the presence of leashed dogs.
  • Park ambassadors continue to receive very positive feedback from dog owners about how happy and grateful they are to enjoy Heckscher Park with their canine companions.
    • As one Park Ambassador put it, “In addition to meeting neighbors and making new friends, I’ve become healthier and created an amazing routine with my dog. For the first time since moving to Huntington, I feel a sense of belonging here.”

Councilwoman Cergol summarized her take on the success of the pilot program in a Nov. 21st Facebook post. Since creating the pilot program a year ago, she wrote, “we taught both the public and our pooches new tricks about safety and co-existing in harmony during a tumultuous year when peace and harmony were often hard to find. We did that by abiding by the mindset that if we respected everyone’s right to enjoyment of this downtown signature park…we would create a walking path for all to come together. For me, this may be one of the most important lessons of this humble pilot program and of this very challenging year,” she wrote.  “For that, I could not be prouder.”

Even though the pilot program has ended, LI-DOG’s President assured the Town Board before the vote that Park Ambassadors would continue to keep an eye on dog owner activities in the park. Once the threat of the coronovirus is contained, public education days will be scheduled when Park Ambassadors once again hand out flyers and talk to dog owners about the rules in the park. If any issues arise, dog owners will reach out to Councilwoman Cergol for her help in resolving them, she said.

Dog owners need to be aware that restrictions on dogs, both leashed and unleashed, remain in place for specific areas of Heckscher Park and other town parks. Among these are:

  • All playgrounds
  • Picnic areas
  • Park benches
  • Active recreation areas such as tennis courts and sports fields
  • All town camp or licensed education areas
  • Beaches, except for paved areas and boardwalks, and
  • The temporarily fenced area around Heckscher Park’s Harry Chapin Rainbow Stage during performances. This last restriction was added to the Town Code as a result of the licensing agreement the Town has with the Huntington Arts Council. Dog owners are still allowed to bring leashed dogs outside the temporary fencing.

What You Can Do: If you have not already done so, let the members of the Huntington Town Board know how great it is to finally be allowed to walk your dog(s) on-leash in Heckscher Park. Don’t forget to thank them for unanimously approving making Heckscher Park dog-friendly for good!

Members of the Huntington Town Board:

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

Hon. Joan Cergol, Councilwoman, Town Hall, 100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone: (631) 351-3173 JCergol@huntingtonny.gov  (Remember to thank Councilwoman Cergol for all her work on behalf of dog owners!)

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

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

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

Thank you for your support!


.11/19/2020 – Heckscher Park Vote Nov. 19th!

Vote to Allow Leashed Dogs in Heckscher Park For Good Set for Thurs. Nov. 19th!

A resolution to finally add Heckscher Park to Huntington’s townwide dog-friendly parks policy is up for a vote by the Huntington Town Board on Thurs., Nov. 19th.  The resolution sponsored by Councilwoman Joan Cergol comes on the heels of an almost year-long pilot program that was successful and gained broad support in the community. To get all the details on this momentous vote, go to Vote to Allow Leashed Dogs in Heckscher Park!