Dog owners in the canine no man’s land of the South Slope want their own dog run — but if past attempts are any indication, they are barking up the wrong tree.
“Most groups fail,” said Matthew Parker, vice president of the the Hillside Dog Run in Brooklyn Heights. “These groups are formed blissfully unaware of the four- to five-year process that lies before them. People move away, dogs get old. Most get frustrated and give up.”
Brooklyn’s landscape is littered with the sites of would-be dog runs: One group attempted an exercise ground at Mount Prospect Park near Grand Army Plaza, another in Boerum Hill failed because it couldn’t find an appropriate site, and several sunken efforts in the South Slope made neighbors hot under the collar.
In all of Brooklyn — with nearly three million residents, many of them dogs — there are just 11 enclosed runs.
Pam Brown, president of the South Slope Dog Owners Association, says that her organization is a different breed. For one thing, unlike some other groups that have no site in mind, hers has marked its territory: the vest-pocket parks adjacent to the Prospect Expressway.
These sites, located on 18th Street near Sixth and Seventh avenues, have been neglected by the Parks Department, which owns them, and because of their location next to the highway, they’re not ideal places to sit and enjoy the air.
Nonetheless, in order to get one of them officially repurposed as a dog run, Brown’s group will need the Parks Department and the community board to lap up the idea.
“We’d need to hear from neighbors and see a clear proposal of how the group will maintain the space,” said Jeremy Laufer, district manager of Community Board 7. Usually a community board will not support a bid for a dog run until it sees a petition with several hundred signatures.
Financing a dog run — which could incur several hundreds of thousands of dollars in lighting, fencing, plumbing and resurfacing costs — is another problem with no one-size-fits-all solution. In the past, money has come from local councilmembers’ discretionary funds, and even from local real-estate companies seeking to drive up home values.
But in most cases it’s up to Fido and Fluffy’s best friends.
“The group should be prepared to raise money towards installation and maintenance of the dog run,” said Parks Department spokesman Phil Abramson.
Brown’s organization — whose petition for a dog run is currently 150 signatures strong — is still in the beginning stages of the process. Before even drafting an official proposal, it must get the community to back it up. And that involves educating the public about the need for happy pets.
“Dogs who get exercise and are properly socialized are better, more compliant pets, that make less of an impact on the areas they inhabit,” said Brown, adding that drug dealing around the vest-pocket parks has been inhibited by increased four-legged traffic to the area.