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When Your Neighbor Hates Your Dog(s)

Morningside Heights, Manhattan

Doggy Discord
Feb. 13, 2018

Yesterday we alerted you to a new wrinkle on the way New Yorkers live now. In essence, as the price of apartments in a neighborhood goes up, the size of that neighborhood’s dogs goes down. Translation: if you see a lot of Shih Tzus on the street, you’re probably in Tribeca or Greenwich Village. If you’re surrounded by Rottweilers, you’re most likely in the Bronx.

Today we have some sobering news: dogs, whether large or small, are not universally loved by New Yorkers. In fact, a dog owner in a Morningside Heights co-op has a neighbor who curses her and threatens to kill her dog. When the dog owner informed the co-op board and building management, they circulated a notice about pet-owner etiquette – not about angry-neighbor-threatening-to-kill-a-dog etiquette. When the dog owner went to the police, she was told the building needs to handle the problem in-house. This is apparently in keeping with the department’s unwritten no-blood-no-foul rule. So who can end threats from a dog-hating neighbor?

Don’t expect help from the co-op board, replies the Ask Real Estate column in the New York Times, because boards tend to avoid neighbor disputes. If the board does step in, it could side with the dog hater, not the dog lover. Consider the handout management circulated: it provided guidance for how pet owners, not their neighbors, should behave. “Going to the board could backfire,” advises real estate lawyer Robin Lewis. The proprietary lease, for example, may include pet restrictions, or the board may say that the dog’s behavior causes a nuisance. Which could lead to drastic measures. 

The dog owner might consider approaching the aggrieved neighbor gently, without the dog present, and asking what she could do to lessen the neighbor’s anxiety. Or she could contact a mediation organization such as the New York Peace Institute, which could bring the neighbors together to try to work out their disagreement without a lot of snarling.

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