By: Erika Mansourian
A letter has been sent to the residents of 170 West End Avenue, informing them of a new board policy requiring them to prove the breed of their dog, even going so far as demanding a DNA test in some cases.
Since 2011, 27 breeds have been banned from the building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The list of breeds singled out for “their tendency towards aggressiveness” is as baffling as it is wrongheaded. It includes Maltese and Saint Bernards, Basset Hounds and Pomeranians. Now the board is taking the discrimination a step further: Dog owners must have a veterinarian sign-off on the dog’s pedigree. If the dog is mixed-breed (or its breed can’t be verified), the Board may ask that the dog have a DNA test. Leaving aside the frequent inconclusiveness these tests, dog lovers inside and outside of the building are outraged.
As one resident told DNAinfo, “It’s beyond offensive, it’s intrusive,” and even likened it to “dog racism.”
The American Kennel Club has long fought against laws and legislation that penalize the owning of certain breeds, and policies such as this one are equally troubling.
Canine researcher and AKC Family Dog columnist Dr. Caroline Coile told Refinery 29 “Yes, dogs of different breeds do have a tendency to act according to their genetic heritage. After all, that's the whole idea behind breeding for a function," Coile said. But, "I can't imagine that they have come up with 27 breeds that are so onerous that they must be banned. Maltese? Really? Maybe they are including barking, in which case they are not banning nearly enough."
As any responsible dog owner knows, it’s not about the dog (no matter which breed or mix), it’s about the owner, and the willingness to train and socialize their pet.
From Mary Burch, PhD, Director of the AKC's Canine Good Citizen program:
"Rather than attempting to ban specific breeds, a more reasonable approach would be to say, 'you can have a dog here, but these are the conditions.' The conditions can include things like basic training and good manners, not barking excessively, and having owners clean up after their dogs in public areas.”
Some apartment buildings, condos, and co-ops use the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen test as a prerequisite for approval.
One exasperated resident of the building summed it up perfectly: “The whole thing is ridiculous because, at the end of the day, it’s about dog owners being responsible.” Atta boy!