Feb. 19, 2011 By Christian Murray
The owner of a dog rescue operation faced his critics at a civic association meeting earlier this month after members of that group had argued that he was putting children at risk by walking his dogs near a local park.
The members of the United 40s Civic Association in a January meeting complained that The Dog Guru, a business run by Raja Shah, was walking his pit bull mixes next to the 43rdStreet/Greenpoint Ave. section of Thomas P Noonan Park—and putting young children at risk.
Other members of the group claimed that he was also letting his dogs walk on the grassy section alongside the park, which was tearing up the soil. Furthermore, they claimed he was allowing the dogs to poop there.
Shah, who spoke for 30 minutes, was quick to turn his fiercest critics into advocates after he explained what he did and the expertise of his staff.
Shah told the group that he runs a non-profit operation that takes in abandoned dogs from the New York Animal Care Control, rehabilitates them and adopts them out. He said he operates out of a 5,500 sqf. warehouse (located at 47-42 43rd Street, behind Orchard Farmers Market) and keeps about 45 dogs.
The critics were put at ease when he explained that the individuals who are walking the dogs are specially trained to deal with rescue animals. He said that his own daughter goes to that same park and he wouldn’t allow the dogs to pose a risk. He said he does get some dangerous dogs in, but he never lets them off the property until they have been rehabilitated.
Furthermore, he argued that the dogs had been walking on the grassy spot by the park because they needed a break from concrete. However, since the complaints were made in January, he said he had stopped walking the dogs there and was just walking them outside his property.
He said he had been working to re-soil the grass alongside the park with Sunnyside Shines, the local business improvement district. Additionally, despite his absence alongside the park in the past month, he claimed dog poop had accumulated. He said this is because “we not only clean up after our own dogs but the area in general.”
One woman, who said she had been stalking the Dog Guru’s staff for two days, said that the walkers had blue bags and cleaned up after the dogs every time. She said that another dog owner with a pair of huskies didn’t bother to pick after his dogs.
By the end of the night, the civic association was fine with Shah walking his dogs near the park and was confident that the dogs were under control and the rubbish was being properly disposed of.