2002-04-06 / Community

Sanders’ First Victory in Wild Dog Fight

Sanders’ First Victory in Wild Dog Fight

Council member James Sanders, Jr. scored his first victory in the effort to protect New Yorkers from dangerous dogs when Mayor Bloomberg agreed to a taskforce to coordinate dog control actions among several mayoral agencies.

The idea for an interagency taskforce was the product of a town hall meeting Councilman Sanders hosted on January 24, 2002 at St. John’s Baptist Church in the Rockaways. The meeting was called in response to two brutal dog attacks on local residents – Lev Liberman and Marlene Fils-Aime – and the long-term dangerous dog problem in the Rockaways. Sixty local residents turned out to express their views on the dog issue, hear from local police officers, and suggest possible solutions.

Sanders followed up this meeting with a letter to Mayor Bloomberg, detailing the extent of the problem and calling for immediate action, including the creation of an interagency task force.

The Department of Health’s Assistant Commissioner for Pest Control and Veterinary Affairs, James Gibson, is coordinating the taskforce. It includes representatives from a number of city agencies, including the New York Police Department, Parks Department, NYCHA, DOH, Department of Sanitation, and the Center for Animal Care and Control (CACC).

Councilman Sanders raised the issue of dangerous dogs with DOH Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden at a recent City Council Health Committee budget hearing. After expounding upon the seriousness of the problem, Sanders wondered why enforcement was being cut by 20 percent. "The Mayor has indicated that he believes public safety agencies should only be cut by 5%," Sanders noted. "As a public safety problem, would it not be more appropriate to limit the cut in this area to 5%?" Sanders vowed to continue his efforts to help people understand that dangerous dogs are a pressing public safety issue.

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