UPPER WEST SIDE — A co-op board that came under fire for changing its pet policy to require tenants to submit their pets to DNA tests to screen out undesirable breeds defended the policy on Wednesday, saying it was for residents' own safety.
The board at 170 West End Ave., which did not return repeated requests for comment when DNAinfo first broke the story, sent a statement about their revised pet policy on Wednesday afternoon.
“The board’s decision to add DNA testing to the existing pet policy was made with the well-being of all who reside in the building in mind, including registered pets," the statement reads.
Starting last month, the board began requiring dog owners living in the luxury co-op to present a letter from their veterinarian stating the dog's breed. If the genetic make-up of the pooch was unknown, the owner could be required to have their dog undergo a DNA test to determine it, according to the revised policy.
Failure to comply by the new rules could result in fines or even the removal of the pet, according to a pet registration form distributed to residents.
"The testing policy may have been misconstrued by some shareholders as a mandate, which is not the case. We understand the significance of pets in people’s lives, and will gladly work with residents to answer questions and address concerns they may have to assure them about the purpose and application of the policy,” the board statement reads.
The board began keeping track of pet breeds in order to enforce a rule banning certain dogs from the building, because of their potential to be aggressive, according to a letter sent to residents in May. The list bans 27 breeds total, including Shih Tzu, Chow Chow and Maltese.
But dog owners living in the building said they were outraged by the new addition, calling the policy "dog racism."
“It’s beyond offensive, it’s intrusive,” a dog-owner from the building previously told DNAinfo.