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New York City Puts Bite on Big Dogs

Owners of medium-size to large dogs who live in New York City public housing may now be faced with a difficult choice: their pet or their home.

A new policy, which prohibits ownership of a dog that exceeds 25 pounds, became effective May 1. Since then, at least 119 dogs have been surrendered by their owners to shelters; about half were euthanized.

The policy—designed to remove dangerous dogs from the city’s 178,000 public housing units—specifically targets pit bulls, dobermans and rottweilers. Service dogs are excluded.

Residents who registered their dogs prior to May 1 are exempt from the new rules, but an estimated 1,500 to 3,000 dogs must be surrendered or their owners could face eviction.

Animal welfare advocates are outraged at the ban. “No one wants a dangerous dog out there, but this is overkill, figuratively and literally,” says Jane Hoffman, president of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals.

The New York City Housing Authority enacted the ban based on fears of residents, 30 percent of whom are older adults. “Our responsibility is to the safety of our residents,” says Authority spokesman Howard Marder. So far, he says, no one has been required to vacate an apartment because of an oversize pet.

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