NYC Councilman Questioned On Discriminatory Profiling Of Dog Owners

March 17, 2007 (PRLEAP.COM) Politics News
The Dog Federation of New York (DFNY) is questioning plans by New York City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. to discriminate against innocent dogs and dog owners by asking the New York State Legislature to overturn the long-standing New York State law that protects dogs from breed discrimination. The DFNY has placed numerous calls to Mr. Vallone’s office without a response.

"We are deeply concerned about Councilman Vallone's motives," stated DFNY spokesperson Mahlon Goer. All major New York animal welfare organizations stand in opposition to Councilman Vallone’s proposal. "He received so much criticism from animal groups on his breed-specific plan, now it seems he is promoting anti-tethering laws as a back door approach to breed-specific legislation.”

Earlier this year, Councilman Vallone shocked New York dog lovers with a characterization that stereotypes pit bull owners as criminals, gang members and drug users. Mr. Vallone's proposal reads, “Dogs are often the weapon of choice of drug dealers and gangs seeking to intimidate and terrorize neighborhoods," and he was widely quoted as referring to pit bulls as "street weapons”.

“It would seem that Mr. Vallone now plans to discriminate against good dogs and good owners by promoting anti-tethering laws, an approach that we’ve seen across the country when politicians don’t get their way. On the surface, these laws might sound humane, however they have no basis in fact. Anti-tethering laws also unfairly target the poor, and may disproportionately affect African-American and Hispanic dog owners. We are worried about his agenda,” said Goer. “Race may be a factor”.

Inflammatory, anti-dog comments from Peter Vallone, Jr. come amid accusations from New York State Senator Eric Adams of Brooklyn that the New York City Council Public Safety Committee, chaired by Councilman Vallone, failed to ensure that New York City’s Police Department refrains from targeting racial and ethnic groups during police investigations.

Ms. Goer further stated, “It is imperative that we protect our children and communities with laws based on facts, not fear, when it comes to dogs and people. Councilman Vallone consistently spreads misinformation calculated to heighten public fears and misunderstanding, along with employing provocative language and negative stereotypes."

Goer cited the expert testimony of Dr. Katherine Houpt of Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine Department of Biomedical Sciences, the country’s leading expert on the issue of tethering. Dr. Houpt, who has studied the issue for years, found that tethering does not increase aggression in dogs.

Despite claims floating on the Internet that tethering dogs increases aggression, Dr. Houpt's team of researchers found otherwise. Furthermore, neither the U. S. government's Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nor the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) condones anti-tethering laws. Spokespeople for both organizations indicate that there is no scientific evidence to support such efforts.

Goer continued, "Both of Councilman Vallone’s recent proposals are based on negative stereotypes and bad information. Since he can’t ban breeds, now he wants a tethering law. Vallone’s lack of concern for good dogs and good owners, and his obvious profiling tactics reflect poorly on him. It’s an embarrassment for the New York City Council, and all New York dog lovers."

This past week, DFNY members and their supporters canvassed Councilman Vallone's home district of Astoria, Queens, as part of an outreach effort for the national "Love Does Not Discriminate"™ Campaign, meeting with local dog owners, the owners of dog-related businesses and other concerned citizens.

DFNY members will return to Astoria to collaborate with area residents, enroll new members and help the public combat discrimination and ignorance, for both dogs and their owners. “We want to make sure that New York remains the most dog-friendly place in the world”, said Ms. Goer. “Discrimination, whether against dogs or their owners, is just not acceptable”.

About the Dog Federation of New York

The Dog Federation of New York is a statewide coalition of dog clubs and organizations that serves the public interest by educating citizens and legislators on responsible dog ownership and advocating for strong, and humane dog-related legislation. The Dog Federation of New York welcomes all dog owners and dog-related organizations in New York. On the web at