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Dogs and Cats Targeted in Gateway Plaza Pet Crackdown

By Julie Shapiro | August 23, 2012 12:42pm

BATTERY PARK CITY — The owners of Gateway Plaza are cracking down on dogs and cats — in a move furious tenants say is inhumane.

Tenants renewing their leases were shocked to learn that The LeFrak Organization, which owns the 1,712-unit Battery Park City complex, had instituted a strict new pet policy that bans more than a dozen dog breeds.

In addition to prohibiting pit bulls, German shepherds, Great Danes, Doberman Pinschers, and other breeds, along with any dog that weighs more than 40 pounds, the strict 19-point memo also limits tenants to one pet per apartment, charges a $250 "annual pet fee" and requires all cats be declawed, according to the document obtained by DNAinfo.com New York.

The new rules, which started appearing as a rider in renewal leases this month, stunned longtime residents of the formerly pet-friendly complex, many of whom have rent-stabilized leases and worried they would eventually have to choose between their home and their beloved animals.

"All the pet owners in Gateway are up in arms about this," said Jeff Galloway, a Gateway resident who owns a German shepherd and runs the Battery Park City Dog Association with his wife.

Galloway slammed The LeFrak Organization for banning particular breeds and sizes of dogs, rather than targeting only those pets that are actually causing a problem.

Galloway, who is a lawyer, added that he did not believe The LeFrak Organization could legally evict existing tenants who did not comply with the new policy, particularly those who are rent-stabilized — but he worried that the new rules would discourage dog-owning families who are looking to put down roots from moving into Gateway Plaza.

Many tenants said they also feared that when their dog died, they would not be allowed to get a similar one under the new rules.

"It's a bad idea," Galloway said of the new policy. "It's disturbing."

The LeFrak Organization did not respond to questions about the new pet policy and whether it would apply to existing residents.

The Gateway Plaza Tenants Association is in the process of mobilizing to fight the new pet rules, members said.

Deborah DiIorio, who has lived at Gateway for the past 20 years and has a lab-pit bull mix and a bulldog mix, said she can only remember two instances of aggressive dogs bothering Gateway residents — and she said it's unfair for all dogs and owners to be punished.

"The rest of us are all very responsible," she said. "We have our dogs sit in the elevator and we don't allow them to urinate on the property.... It's unfortunate that you would penalize everyone."

Rich Brotman, who has lived at Gateway since 1983 and has five cats, a Yorkshire terrier and a Chihuahua mix, called the new policy "mean-spirited" and "adversarial."

"You can't dictate that people declaw their cats," said Brotman, who has rescued stray cats in the neighborhood for nearly 20 years. "It's like cutting off people's fingers."

While Brotman said he expected the tenants would successfully battle The LeFrak Organization to have the rules reversed, at least for existing residents, he was still concerned about the management's stance on pets.

"A lot of people are very upset," Brotman said.

Mikhail Serdiouk, 41, a Gateway resident who was walking his Italian greyhound, Roman, and his mutt, Pablo, along the esplanade on a recent afternoon, was also unhappy about the new rules, but he was not entirely surprised.

"It's just another excuse for them to raise money," Serdiouk said of the $250 annual pet fee.

David Caporale, 53, who was playing with Luna, his 2-year-old Havanese, in the dog run next to Gateway Plaza, said the landlord ought to fine residents whose dogs misbehave, instead of charging an across-the-board fee.

"I would be very disappointed and angry if they did something like that," he said.