Friday, March 21, 2008

Gowanus Attack Dog Follow Up: Settle It 'Between Neighbors'


So, what does someone do if one is walking down the street with one's spouse and dogs and is attacked by insane dogs that have escaped from a construction site? Apparently, one should reach deep inside and appeal to the God of one's understanding. We were in touch yesterday with one of the victims of the Scarano Bunker dog attack on Bond Street. She told us that, "It seems like we've fallen into a black hole since the police can't (won't?) do anything until a human is bit, and Community Board 6 is telling us to contact the police if we see the dogs loose again." Which sounds vaguely like Catch 22, except in Gowanus and with a building designed by a controversial architect (which we realize is neither here nor there) and dogs with nasty dispositions and a desire to bite. Earlier this week, a dog named Cappy--who marched in the annual BARC Parade as Captain Brooklyn--and was mauled by an escaped guard dog on Bond Street. (That's Cappy, above, in a photo we realized we had of him from the parade.) Here is the response from Community Board 6 to the victim:
Thank you for contacting our office. Unfortunately, the guard dog issue is a neighbor/neighbor matter that can only be resolved between neighbors. If you see the dogs loose again, I would urge you to contact the 76th precinct.
GL Analysis:
While we're certain the response is appropriate in a bureaucratic way, it seems to lack a certain something we can't quite put our finger on. Perhaps, it's the hope that the "guard dog issue" be "resolved between neighbors" when the neighbor in question is a building site that has 36 complaints logged with the Department of Buildings, many of them for what would seem to be very un-neighborlike conduct. Or, maybe, it's simply the entire sense that one must wait for one's face to get bitten off or one's pet to be killed before anyone in city government will do anything. So, we would ask whether one should call the 76th Precinct be before or after prying the vicious dog's jaws from one's leg or trying to keep it from swallowing one's pet? Perhaps it would behoove the Community Board to add escaped vicious dogs to the list of construction site safety issues that might be addressed, not between neighbors, but between government and development and contractors.

Oddly, what we called the Nightmare on Bond Street brings us full circle to the issue of powerlessness that many people feel about the impact of development on their communities. It's not being excessive to suggest the city should take an interest in construction site attack dogs that could kill someone before there is an injury. The power of the building permit--and its suspension or revocation is one of the few defenses the public has. It should be used, and the code should be revised to cover any number of threats including Construction Site Cujos.

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Blogger kdw said...

A "neighbor/neighbor" issue sounds like two residents having to deal with the problem. This is a business and a resident (civilian?). Somehow, it doesn't seem correct for the CB to treat it the same way. At the very least, a letter to both the guard dog company and the contractor is in order. Thanks for updating on this!

8:57 AM  
Blogger grumpygirl said...

what does someone do? they shoot the dog.

9:12 AM  
Anonymous db said...

The Community Board is an advocate between residents and city agencies. It can't force any city agent to act, but it can often get them moving more quickly because of the relationship they've developed.

The situation here is not a resident v. city agency. It's a resident v. private developer or contractor, hence the description of neighbor/neighbor.

How can we ensure that this abuse of our safety and abuse of animals ends? Take it to your local legislature. Show up at meetings, let your local electeds know that rules created for the DoB and DoH are unacceptable.

And, we must be stricter on animal welfare issues. The guard dogs have been severely mistreated. This a criminal matter that should be addressed separate from a neighbor-on-neighbor issue.

10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

all this press will result in the guard dog being destroyed. Remember, they are bred and trained to ATTACK. There is no real deprogramming class for guard dogs. The Michael Vick dogs are being saved with MV's $$. Most will live out their days at a sanctuary. The Bond street dogs will be seeing the glue factory..or most likely, the inside of more dirty construction zones.

10:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the dog gets out, kill the dog. End of story. Letters to these filthy people won't have much effect.

Sometimes you just have to respond to force with force.

11:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The issue is not the dogs themselves and the job they do (presumably well), but that they ESCAPE. They have escaped not once but twice!

Perhaps the Community Board can set up a forum where the developer can explain the steps taken to prevent this from happening again.

I agree that monitoring attack dogs on development sites is an appropriate job for government. It's a hazardous site condition just like, say, a falling crane.

12:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to all my friends. why are u all so bitter.its easter week we got to show some love not all this anger.ill pray for all of u this easter that u should all show love to everyone .the residents and the developers should all get along and show love one to other.arent we all human .

2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

please stop using u.

6:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it were my dog that got bit that badly, I'd take the construction site owners and the attack dog company to court. A small claims suit costs about $25 dollars to file. The point is not just to recover monetary damages, but to shame them, and would decrease the possibility of this type of incident happening again.

12:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


This too would be a neighbor to neighbor issue? This is faulty reasoning and is basically telling residents very subtly to "take things into there own hands"....cause no one is taking responsibility in NYC.... so the next time a guard dog tries to attack you, your dog, or your kid, I hope you have some dog biscuits in your pocket, and I hope you carry all your "neighbors" cell phone numbers too, cause you will be wanting to call them as soon as their dog starts attacking yours...

1:14 AM  
Blogger Jay said...

The best thing we as neighbors can do is be a royal pain in the ass to the contractor and developer. Anytime you see someone working after hours or on Saturdays call 311 and file a complaint. If they are using loud equipment and tools call 311 and they will send DEP to investigate. If they don't have the mandated DEP noise mitigation plan in place they will be fined then shut down after numerous offenses. If you see men wokring without hardhats or fall protection call OSHA or BEST Squad. Believe me, I am in the business and now is a great time to get these shoddy contractors to behave and listen to neighbors concerns. The DOB is rightfully freaked out by unsafe sites and this site is one of the worst I have seen. Enough complaints and fines will force them to comply with neighbors and NYC building standards.

12:43 PM  

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