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Tenants in residence prior to Oct. 1, 2012, will be able to have as many pets as they wish of whatever breed and size. Tenants who move into Gateway Plaza after that date will not be allowed to own pit bulls or pit bull mixes.
“This is a great thing for all four-legged creatures in Gateway Plaza,” said Glenn Plaskin, president of the Gateway Plaza Tenants Association (G.P.T.A.). “This community will remain a very open, dog-loving community as it always has been.”
Problems for Gateway Plaza dog and cat owners started in July when pet riders began to appear on renewal leases that prohibited certain breeds and sizes of dogs, allowed only one dog per apartment and imposed an annual fee of $250 per pet. The pet rider also required that dogs be registered with management. Cats, meanwhile, had to be neutered and declawed.
Gradually, the LeFrak Organization, which owns and manages the 1,712-unit apartment complex, backed away from most of those provisions. By the end of September, the G.P.T.A., representing the dog and cat owners, had reached an accord with Gateway Plaza management.
Moving forward, all dogs will have to be registered with management, with no further restrictions on pet owners who moved in before Oct. 1. However, the lease pet rider states that any pet that “constitutes a nuisance” or that attacks, threatens or bites anyone on Gateway Plaza property will be banned.
The lease pet rider for new tenants is similar, except that it limits the number of pets to two per apartment and specifically prohibits pit bulls and pit bull mixes.
Plaskin said that the G.P.T.A. supports the pet registration clause in the leases. “If there were another emergency like 9/11 and a tenant weren’t home,” he said, “it would let management know which doors to go to to rescue the pets.”
But the Tenants Association does not favor the pit bull restrictions. “Any dog can bite or be a danger,” said Plaskin. “We believe in not legislating against an entire breed. Rather, if there’s a dog on the premises that’s a danger to other dogs or to other tenants, then that tenant and dog need to be removed.”
The Humane Society of the United States weighed in on this issue with a Sept. 17 letter to Richard LeFrak, chairman and chief executive officer of the LeFrak Organization. The letter stated that breed-specific policies “have never been effective” in reducing dog bite incidents, and that pit bulls were no more likely to bite than other breeds.
But Gateway Plaza management would not budge on the pit bull clause in the lease, according to Plaskin. “We agreed to disagree,” he said. “If you lived here before Oct. 1, 2012, you can not only keep your pit bull, but you can get as many as you want in the future. This creates a double standard.”
Another provision in the lease pet riders that applies to all tenants says that residents are banned from permitting their pets to defecate or urinate in Gateway Plaza’s indoor or outdoor public and common areas. “Any solid waste must be picked up and properly disposed of,” it reads. “A service cleaning fee of $75 per incident will be applied and billed as additional rent for any violations of this policy.”
Responding to this policy, Plaskin said, “We fully support dogs relieving themselves outside the property. We’re very sensitive to Gateway residents who are not dog owners and who are not dog lovers. They did not want to live in a community where dog owners are not being considerate.”
To assist in this effort, the G.P.T.A. plans to distribute materials to educate dog owners about where to walk their dogs. Also, the Tenants Association has asked Gateway Plaza management to power-wash the property’s sidewalks more frequently with better equipment.