'Dog Parker' shelters booted from Brooklyn sidewalks
NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - Teeka, a 6-year-old terrier mix, has been using Dog Parker shelters since they debuted in her Brooklyn neighborhood a year and a half ago. Her owners Karen Lazarus and Robert DiScalfani said the high-tech lockable dog houses have been a convenient and comfortable place to put her while they do errands.
"Both of us take her when we're doing our shopping and we're able to put her in a place where she's safe, where no one will take her," Lazarus said, praising the Dog Parker, which provides dog owners an alternative to tying up their dogs outside of businesses.
But not anymore. Dog Parker, the company, said it has been forced to remove its 40-something stations across Brooklyn after continuing threats from the Department of Transportation, much to the disappointment of its more than a thousand customers.
"I was like, 'You're joking me, we love this thing,'" DiScalfani said.
Fox 5 first profiled Dog Parker two years ago when they set up their first house and again when they expanded this past summer.
Company founder Chelsea Brownridge said that despite receiving a grant from the city's Economic Development Corporation and previously partnering with the Mayor's Office of Technology and Innovation, in November, the DOT told them they had to get off city sidewalks.
"A couple of months of back-and-forth trying to get more answers as to why and what exactly are we in violation of, and unfortunately not a lot of answers, just some more threats, we decided to not put our business partners at risk, and take away the houses," Brownridge said.
The DOT told Fox 5 in a statement: "The City had been in discussions with Dog Parker Inc. for more than a year about their structures that create obstructions on sidewalks that are clearly public property."
For now, the plan is to bring the Dog Parkers to other cities that have already expressed interest.
Meanwhile, City Councilman Rafael Espinal Jr., who chairs the consumer affairs committee, said he plans to draft legislation to update what he said is an antiquated policy on what can and can't be on city sidewalks.
"This is a city that prides itself on supporting minority- and women-owned businesses, this is a city that prides itself on promoting innovation," Espinal said, adding that the city should step up and not step back.
Brownridge said she is disappointed to be leaving the city that Dog Parker calls home.
"Cities need to do better at embracing new ways of doing things," she said.
All of the Dog Parkers in Brooklyn with exception of two on private property are off city streets while the company decides on its next move.