2019 Another Very Good Year for LI-DOG

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!

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