President’s 2013 Report

As you know, last year was very successful for LI-DOG. It started in May, When the Village of Valley Stream opened its first dog run ever—a project led by my colleague Rich Infield. Then, in June, the Town of Oyster Bay opened its first dog park ever–a big, really nice dog park in Massapequa–which was the result of an LI-DOG campaign led by fellow Board Member Peggy Heijmen. Finally, in October, Nassau County opened the Eisenhower Dog Park in its premiere park, in the middle of the county. This was the result of a campaign led by my colleague Chris Laubis. If the postings on Facebook are any indication, these dog parks already are having a positive impact on the lives of many dog owners and their dogs. I want you to join me in thanking Rich, Peggy, and Chris for helping bring these wonderful new dog parks into existence.2013 is already getting off to a good start. In February, Brookhaven Councilwoman Kathy Walsh told us that “the money is in the budget this year” for what will become the Middle Country Dog Park in Selden. This is a project that Irene Rabinowitz has been working on since July 2011. The Parks Dept. has told us work will begin on the dog park this summer and we expect it to open this fall. Will be 10th dog park we’ve worked on. We’ll have to have a big celebration. Things also are getting off to a good start as far as our on-leash dog walking campaigns. Earlier this month, the Huntington Town Board held a Public Hearing on an initiative that will, for the first time, allow people to walk their dogs on-leash in Town Parks. My colleague Barbara Buscareno organized our participation in that Public Hearing and it went really, really well. We’re hopeful the resolution will be adopted at the next Town Board meeting on June 4th and that this will be an important precedent for other Town parks on LI, as well as Nassau County.

Our successful campaigns—the openings of the Massapequa, Valley Stream and Eisenhower Dog Parks—have generated good press coverage. The Long Island Press and Newsday both did great articles on the new dog parks and the growth of dog parks on Long Island a couple months ago. Our efforts in Brookhaven and Huntington have also generated positive articles in local newspapers more recently. Good press coverage is important as it gives us increased credibility among elected officials and helps spread the word about our campaigns.

LI-DOG itself continues to grow and attract more dog owners. Our email list of supporters has increased by more than 150 people in just the first 5 months this year. We actually have more names of people who’ve signed our Join sheets, but we need help adding them. Our Facebook Group continues to grow—we’ve added more than 250 members in the last 12 months so we now have more than 850 people on FB. We’ve also added more than 200 people to our Meetup site, which we use to publicize all our events. Our website, while needing a new design and relaunch, continues to attract people. In April, we had 5,800 unique visitors on the website–that’s almost 200 people a day, a record for us. Our finances are in good shape. We raised $3,000 last year and spent about $1,500, the majority of that on our communications and outreach to dog owners—through our email program, our Meetup site, flyers and membership brochures—all of which cost money.

I want to thank several businesses for helping raise that money. Once again, LI-DOG’s single largest contributor was Viewpoint Photography of Huntington, which sponsors a Holiday Pooch Shoot to benefit LI-DOG. The photos that Pam Setchell takes of our dogs on a holiday-themed set are beautiful and I urge you to consider coming this year. We also want to thank Canine Camp Getaway, which sponsors vacations for you and your dog up in Lake George twice a year, for their generous donation to LI-DOG. The Canine Companies, which provide the Invisible Fence brand, agreed to sponsor our Meetup site for the third year in a row; and we have a new notable business contributor in Suburban Pets, which provides dog walking and dog sitting services. If you own a business or know of a business that believes in our cause, please tell them to consider donating to LI-DOG. Businesses like these account for one-third of our revenues; but 2/3rds of our funding comes from people like YOU. Dog owners who come to our events—dog park openings, P&P’s, DN’s, etc.—and buy raffle tickets, bandanas for their dogs, put money in our donation tube, or donate through PayPal on our website. We want to thank all our fellow dog owners who support us financially. It’s very important to our work.

As far as key campaigns and goals this year—our biggest effort will be getting on-leash dog walking in Nassau County Parks. This will likely require legislative action. While this will take a lot work, we’ve done this before–in Suffolk County where we worked with legislators to get the Five New Dog Parks bill passed into law. This new effort in Nassau County will likely take time, and we’ll need help, for sure.

We also will work on getting on-leash dog walking in TOWN parks this year. Oyster Bay, No. Hempstead, Hempstead, Brookhaven, Babylon—all ban this very common practice of walking your dog on a leash in a park. We’re hopeful the Huntington example will be an important catalyst for these other campaigns. The creation of new dog parks and off-leash areas continues to be important. Towards that end, we will work to get the Middle Country Dog Park in Brookhaven open this year. We also will work with other groups and municipalities such as the City of Glen Cove that are working to get their own dog parks open now.

As you can tell, we have a lot on our plate and we’re going to need help making these campaigns succeed. We need campaign organizers – people who can make flyers, help distribute them and get more dog owners involved; people who can attend public meetings and do research.

We also need people to help with events. Events are critical to our fundraising efforts and increasing our exposure among dog owners. We need event organizers and people who can staff our table at upcoming events like Hounds on the Sound in Port Jefferson and the Dog Day Agility Expo in Patchogue next month. These dog-related events are a lot of fun—you get to meet a lot of dogs and dog owners–and it’s great to be part of them. All this work takes more time and effort than most people realize. I’ve already pointed out several of our key campaign organizers who donated many hours to making our campaigns successful, but I also want to recognize several other people who make major contributions to LI-DOG on a regular basis. Among them are: – Mike Marcotte, our webmaster and the founder of MDM Web Design. Our website works beautifully and Mike is the reason. – Recognize our event organizers Danielle Storemski-Mazzari and Anais Leon-Kingsly. Both of whom did amazing jobs with our Pints & Paws and Doggie Nights events last year. – Thank Karen Dikeman and Shelley Fromm, both of whom write up all the events for our website every month. – And, last but not least, recognize Rob Frein – the “Mayor” of the Massapequa Dog Park and the creator and administrator of Massapequa Dog Park Facebook Group. Rob is co-owner of demonstrative evidence firm Frein Lazzara in Westbury and he does an incredible job of quickly producing large scale posters, photos, and aerials for presentations to public officials as well as events.

Rob as well as all these other people have been critical to our success this past year. I want to join me in thanking them all!

In conclusion, LI-DOG has been very successful. And, we’ve done it all with a fairly small group of people. But, we’re growing now—attracting more dog owners to our cause every day—and we have major new campaigns under way—all of which need help. I urge you to get involved in LI-DOG. By helping LI-DOG, you’ll make a difference not only in the lives of your dogs, but in the lives of hundreds of other dog owners and their dogs, who will benefit from the dog parks you help create and the parks you help open up for on-leash dog walking. Please help us make it happen. Thank you so much for your support this past year and for your continuing support this year!

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