2009-07-31 / Letters

Misconception About NYCdog

Dear Editor,

In the "Beachcomber" column of June 12, the following appeared: "Michael Feldman, who runs the Pennies for Paws organization, called to say that he was unhappy about a recent Beachcomber item that intimated that his organization might not be above-board. We did so because he was not registered with the state as a nonprofit organization and because we left messages for him at at least two different telephone numbers and he never returned our calls. Local activist Susan Jasper e-mailed us that Feldman donated $100 to ARF-ARF at its recent 'It's My Bark Day.' He also donated $75 to the ASPCA. Feldman says that he is awaiting state notification that he is a non-profit, adding that he now operates under an umbrella organization called NYCDOG, which, he says, is tax-exempt."

Last week, I contacted The Wave and discussed Mr. Feldman's representation that he "operates" under our NYCdog umbrella. Subsequently, I called and e-mailed Mr. Feldman to clarify what he said. Mr. Feldman contends that he " never represented that his organization, "Pennies for Paws," is affiliated with NYCdog.

In the absence of written record or proof, it is impossible to know whether a misunderstanding or misrepresentation occurred. Regardless, we at NYCdog wish to be perfectly clear: NYCdog has absolutely no connection or affiliation with "Pennies for Paws." In fact, until The Wave articles were brought to our attention, we never heard of either Mr. Feldman or "Pennies for Paws."

To our knowledge, "Pennies" is not (yet) a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization. Mr. Feldman admitted that his is a new organization and claims that he is trying to help local rescue and dog groups. In this regard, he did donate $100 to our NYCdog member group in the Rockaways, Arf-Arf.

Other regional groups report that he has placed canisters at retail stores throughout the Hamptons as well as within the city. Despite several calls, we have yet to identify any Hampton or city groups he may be legitimately working with or assisting.

While any effort to raise funds to help dogs, cats, and other animals is admirable, those doing so must 1) scrupulously follow all laws, 2) be fully transparent for review by all citizens and authorities, and 3) show where every penny collected is spent or donated. They cannot be operated like a child's sidewalk lemonade stand. Doing so would allow disreputable people to take advantage of the good hearts of donors.

Until, and unless, Mr. Feldman meets those standards, we cannot vouch for the legitimacy of "Pennies for Paws." We hope that he meets these reasonable standards because animal rescue groups need all the money they can get in order to keep doing their good work.

NYCdog—the New York Council of Dog Owner Groups—is an umbrella organization made up of dog owner groups throughout the five boroughs. Every member is a volunteer. We were instrumental in the successful effort to codify and expand off-leash opportunities for dog parks where land and funding are available. Most importantly, we promote respectful, responsible sharing of our precious parks.

Dog owners constitute the largest use-specific patrons of city parks. We have a vested interest in helping parks while affording our beloved dogs the opportunity to properly socialize with other dogs and human companions. We appreciate the support Arf- Arf has received due to the exposure afforded by The Wave.

ROBERT A. MARINO PRESIDENT OF NYCDOG

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