Where are your puppy’s papers?!? Southbridge Towers mulls evicting residents who don’t register their dogs

Southbridge Towers wants all residents to register any dogs they may be harboring — under threat of eviction.
Southbridge Towers wants all residents to register any dogs they may be harboring — under threat of eviction.


Southbridge Towers dog owners are howling mad over new rules proposed by the co-op’s board that would keep them on a very short leash.

The rules lay down dogma on everything from how many pooches a resident can own to how big those mutts can be, in addition to requiring residents to register their hounds with the co-op every two years — or be evicted.

Opponents say that the new rules are “ridiculous,” and will impose an unnecessary burden on co-op staff and residents without solving any real problems.

“This is an extra burden on the shareholders, not to mention our office staff,” said 32-year Southbridge resident Paul Hovitz, owner of Gucci the shih tzu. “Now we will have to go through this whole registration process — and to what end?”

The three-page’s new rules for dogs was first circulated among Southbridge residents in June, and since then hundreds of residents of the one-time Mitchel-Lama development have come out for and against the proposed policy change.

Hovitz, who has become alpha dog for the opposition, says he’s got the weight of numbers on his side, and has the signatures to prove it. A petition he championed has garnered around 150 signatures — largely from disgruntled pet owners — who refuse to roll over.

But supporters of the new rules point to a survey conducted by the co-op’s board, which showed that 178 respondents were in favor of the new policy, versus only 58 who were against it.

Among pet owners’ many grievances are the particularly harsh measures the co-op is prepared to take against residents who fail to register their furry roommates.

The draft rules state that the co-op will move to evict any residents who do not register their pets in a timely manner. They’ll also be held responsible for any legal fees the co-op incurs as a result of the eviction proceedings, and be subject to additional “administrative fees” totaling $100 per month.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Liz York, a three-year Southbridge resident.

Furthermore, while the co-op seems intent on recouping any legal expenses related to eviction proceedings, opponents are convinced that the cost of booting pet offenders will hurt the shareholder’s pockets more than whoever’s getting the boot.

“You might think now it won’t cost anything, but it could be very expensive,” said York. “So whether or not they have a dog, this is not a good way for us to be handling this situation.”

But as draconian as it may seem, without the threat of eviction, the co-op’s proposed rules would be all bark and no bite. Hovitz, a former member of the  board, says that Southbridge’s bylaws forbid the levying of any fines — and that the only way to change the bylaws would be by a referendum requiring a two-thirds majority of all shareholders.

And even if that were achieved, Hovitz believes it’s unlikely a judge would uphold the fine if it were challenged in court.

“There are veiled threats of fines, which of course they cannot enforce,” said Hovitz.

But supporters of the new policy say that while the rules my require a little tweaking, they are reasonable — especially when it comes to limiting dogs over 80-pounds, according to one resident.

“It’s New York City, why would you want a dog over 80 pounds?” asked 46-year Southbridge resident — and avowed dog-lover — Jamie Davila.

Proponents are furthermore hopeful that the new rules will help security guards tell the difference between resident pups, and outsiders who travel to Southbridge’s common green spaces so their pooches can poop.

“We have an extraordinary amount of outside people that walk through, and the property is too big to gate,” said former Southbridge co-op board member Robin Warshay. “So that’s part of the problem.”

It’s not clear exactly how the new rules will help rid the co-op of the four legged invaders, although one board member had a bright idea about how to deal with the unwanted leftovers.

At one point, the notion was posited to collect resident pooches’ blood samples in order to track down pet owners who weren’t cleaning up their dogs’ deposits, according to Hovitz.

“There was some talk from one board member about requiring everyone to hand in a DNA sample of their dogs,” said Hovitz. “Who is picking up the shit and testing it? This is so outlandish, it’s laughable!”

Fortunately for pet owners, that idea did not make it into the new proposal.

The co-op’s board will be considering a motion to adopt the new rules at the July 7 Open Board Meeting. The board declined to comment for this story.