A Year of Firsts and Another Year of Accomplishments, LI-DOG President Tells May 2014 Annual Meeting LI-DOG Board of Directors Also Elected at the Meeting

“I am pleased to report that this has been another very successful year and a year of firsts, LI-DOG President Ginny Munger Kahn told the nonprofit organization’s May 2014 Annual Meeting in Mineola.Among the highlights of the President’s Report:

– A commitment from County Executive Ed Mangano in Oct. 2013 to work to change the law to allow dogs in Nassau County parks– 5,000 acres of public parkland to which dog owners currently are denied access. In subsequent meetings with Nassau County Legislator Rose Marie Walker and Gary Rogers, the County Executive’s point person on the initiative, we have been assured the County will launch a pilot program for on-leash access to Nassau County parks in the coming weeks.

– The decision by the Huntington Town Board in June 2013 to overturn its longstanding ban against dogs in Town parks and the designation of its first four on-leash dog walking trails in January 2014. LI-DOG played an important role in gaining support for the resolutions by getting dog owners to speak at public hearings, send emails and make phone calls to the Town Board. For the first time in years, Huntington dog owners will be able to walk their dogs on-leash in Town parks.

– The final approval in March 2014 of the dog park in Selden that we’ve been working on since July 2011, with Irene Rabinowitz, the founder of Central Suffolk Paws. The decision came after a critical Community Meeting in which dog owners were able to demonstrate this was something the community needed and wanted. This will be not the first, but the 10th dog park that LI-DOG has helped create on Long Island.

LI-DOG’s accomplishments have generated Interest in its work among a new audience of dog owners.

– In February, we were invited to speak before the Westbury Kennel Club for the first time and in June we will be an exhibitor at their Match Show in Kings Park.

– Last Sept., we were invited to exhibit at the Suffolk Kennel Club Doggie Fun Day and Dog Show in St. James. In April, we received our first-ever donation from the Kennel Club as part of its contribution program for nonprofits.

Our work to gain on-leash access to parks and beaches has broad appeal to many dog owner groups and we will continue to build our relationships with the entire dog owner community.

LI-DOG itself continues to do well. In the last year, our email list has grown by 33 percent and our Facebook and Meetup Groups continue to set records. In April, our website attracted a record 4,510 unique visitors and got 10,700 page views.

Several businesses contributed to our fundraising success over the past year.

– LI-DOG’s single biggest contributor once again was Viewpoint Photography  in Huntington, which sponsors a Holiday Pooch Shoot to benefit LI-DOG. Last year, Viewpoint booked 66 sessions with close to 100 dogs for the Pooch Shoot. Viewpoint’s Founder Pamela Setchell is a talented photographer and we urge everyone to join us this November for the event.

– We also want to thank Canine Camp Getaway of NY , which sponsors vacations for you and your dog in Lake George in June and September, for their generous donation.

– And, for the fourth year in a row, Canine Companies, which provides the Invisible Fence brand, training services and other pet products, agreed to sponsor our Meetup site.

We are very grateful for the confidence these businesses have shown in LI-DOG.

We want to thank one other business for its terrific work— MDM Web Design. The company manages LI-DOG’s website on a daily basis. The website looks great and works flawlessly and the reason is because of Mike Marcotte, the founder of the company.

The majority of LI-DOG’s funding still comes from individuals–our fellow dog owners. These contributions range from $100 donations through PayPal to people putting money in our donation tube at events. We want to thank our fellow dog owners for their terrific financial support!

LI-DOG has an ambitious agenda for the coming year. Our goals include:– Getting the Middle Country Dog Park in Selden open. Because it’s such a big deal for LI-DOG–our 10th dog park—we will want the Grand Opening to be very special. We’re inviting all our supporters to come and help make this happen.

– Getting the Nassau County on-leash dog walking initiative off the ground. Leg. Walker continues to be a strong supporter of the initiative and Rogers has told us the County has several parks in mind where it believes on-leash dog walking will work.

– Expanding on-leash dog walking in the Town of Huntington. As a formal member of the Huntington Trails Committee, LI-DOG is now part of the process of expanding this initiative and making sure it’s a success. We are very hopeful the success of this initiative will serve as a precedent for other Towns on Long Island.

– Getting more access to beaches on LI. In early June, LI-DOG will meet for the first time with the new LI Regional Director of the New York State Office of Parks. We will be talking primarily about access to beaches, but we are hopeful this will be the beginning of a dialogue that will result in increased access to NYS Parks on LI in general.

As far as events are concerned, we launched our first ever LI-DOG Pack Walks—group on-leash dog walks in dog friendly parks—in April. The first two Pack Walks were very successful with dozens of dog owners participating. Our next Pack Walk is planned for Sat., June 21st at Dix Hills Park in Huntington to celebrate the opening of the Town’s first four on-leash dog walking trails. Not only do our Pack Walks attract new dog owners to our cause, but they set a good example for other dog walkers. Pack Walks are on-leash and everyone picks up after their dogs.

There are two keys to the success of our new dog walking campaigns:

1) That people pick up after their dogs 2) That people keep their dogs on-leash on newly designated trails.

We know our supporters get this. But, we need everyone to understand a very basic concept: The actions of each one of us reflect on all of us.

Despite our accomplishments, we still have some convincing to do. When I mention on-leash access to parks, some officials and even fellow dog owners respond, “but dog owners don’t clean up.” That’s wrong. Today, responsible dog owners know that cleaning up after your dog is a basic responsibility. The comment also is unfair. We don’t ban young adults from parks because a few drink and break bottles. We don’t ban people from our parks because some leave trash or graffiti the park. Similarly, responsible dog owners who clean up after their dogs should not be denied access to parks because a few dog owners are irresponsible.

As far as our long-term goals are concerned, we have the numbers behind us. The latest survey from the American Pet Products Association indicates that 56.7 million American households own a dog—that’s a staggering 49% of American households. That’s more households than have children under the age of 18, which is generally about one-third of households. Yet, we continue to see millions of dollars spent on new soccer fields and hear people calling for still more playgrounds. We need to do a better job of educating elected officials and Parks Dept. officials about the significant proportion of the population we represent. While schools on LI are being closed because the school age population is declining, the number of households with dogs continues to grow. Elected officials need to understand that by increasing access to parks and beaches for dog owners they are serving a large and growing constituency.

Finally, the LI-DOG President urged attendees at the Annual Meeting to recommit to helping LI-DOG. “To see dogs playing in a dog park that you helped create or to see people walking their dogs on trails that you helped open up to dogs is a great feeling. I urge each of you to get more involved in LI-DOG and help us continue to make a difference in the lives of 1,000s of dog owners and their dogs,” said Munger Kahn.

The meeting concluded with the election of nine members to the LI-DOG Board of Directors. In a previous on-line vote, members approved a change in the election of directors so that beginning with this election, existing Board members vote for the succeeding Board. To see the members of the LI-DOG Board, go here. Thanks for your support!

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