Volume 78 - Number 47 / April 29 - May 5 , 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Boston terriers, like this one, will be illegal in New York City public housing starting May 1.

Boston terrier is among breeds in Housing Authority’s doghouse

By Rita Wu

Boston terriers, but possibly not rottweilers, will be banned from New York City public housing projects under a new policy on dogs set to go into effect May 1.

The New York City Housing Authority first instituted dog regulations seven years ago. At that time, fully grown dogs weighing more than 40 pounds were prohibited. However, service dogs and dogs that had been in NYCHA housing prior to the implementation date were exempt. The new policy forbids grown dogs weighing more than 25 pounds, and includes a list of breeds deemed dangerous by NYCHA, among them the diminutive Boston terrier.

According to Howard Marder, an authority spokesperson, the pet policy had to be revised because of “too many incidents of people’s dogs doing what they aren’t supposed to.” He wouldn’t go into detail as to what these incidents were, but said NYCHA hopes this new policy will “keep people from being bitten or threatened.”

The first thing the agency considered in revising the policy was weight limitation. According to Marder, NYCHA “realized that 40 pounds was too much.” Next, the agency looked into popular breeds used for dog fighting. The result was a list of about 30 types of dogs that will be prohibited from being registered in public housing after May 1.
NYCHA’s pet policy overview consists of an odd mix of large and small dogs believed to be aggressive, and rare breeds. 

Public-housing residents who own Boston terriers, for one, are surprised to hear that their beloved breed is on the outlawed-dogs list, while breeds with a reputation for being more aggressive, like rottweilers, have been left off. The average weight of Boston terriers, considered small dogs, ranges between 10 and 25 pounds.

But Marder said the list was still being tweaked, and would include Dobermans, German shepherds, boxers and other aggressive dogs, along with the breeds NYCHA already has listed, by the time the regulations kick in on May 1.

Another challenge is keeping a handle on who has a registered dog and who doesn’t. Marder said, in  cases of reports of unregistered dogs or complaints, the owners would be “brought in for discussion with the housing manager,” which can “lead to actions against the tenant.”

The spokesperson said if tenants haven’t registered their dogs with the housing agency, they can still do so before May 1, so that their soon-to-be-banned breeds would be grandfathered in under the new regulations. But no new dogs from these breeds will be allowed in under the new regulations.

Margo Troche, a tenant at the Baruch Houses and the owner of a Boston terrier, called the list of prohibited dogs “hilarious.”

“Instead of enforcing the current pet policy, they waste taxpayers’ money, time and effort — and who knows what else — on a ‘revised pet policy,’” she scoffed. 

Troche wants the Housing Authority to enforce its existing policy because, she said, there are already many aggressive dogs living there. She accused Baruch’s housing manager of not even enforcing the policy prohibiting dogs of more than 40 pounds.

“There are dangerous dogs here,” Troche said. “Housing does nothing about them.” 

She said she knows of tenants with unregistered pets, yet has never heard of anyone getting reprimanded for it. On a regular basis, she sees pit bulls, rottweilers and Great Danes that are clearly over the weight limit.

Even if she was to file a complaint, she noted, “Don’t know what apartment they’re in. Who are you going to tell?”

According to Wikipedia, Boston terriers “have strong, friendly personalities. ... While originally bred for fighting, they were later down bred for companionship. ... Having been bred as a companion dog, they enjoy being around people, and, if properly socialized, get along well with children, the elderly, other canines and noncanine pets. Some Boston terriers are very cuddly, while others are more independent.”

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