May 28, 2019 By Christian Murray
The memorial dedicated to those canines that were frequent visitors to the Lou Lodati dog run and have passed away over the years was trashed Saturday night.
Vandals destroyed 117 tags–each tag paying tribute to a deceased dog–that were attached to the fence on a keyring. The tags, pink for females and blue for males, included names such as Toby, Spike, Shane, Barnum, Olive and more. Five brown tags, in memorial of five individuals—such as Mark Barberi, a Sunnyside resident who helped the run become a reality–were also destroyed.
Each tag had been torn off the keyring and discarded on the dog run or in an adjacent garden. The Sunnyside United Dog Society banner was also trashed.
The incident was the first time that vandals had targeted the run since it opened in 2013, according to Rick Duro, the president of Sunnyside United Dogs Society (SUDS), the group that pushed for the installation of the dog run and the renovation of the park.
“This would have taken hours to do,” Duro said. “Each tag would have had to have been twisted off by hand. It would have taken a lot of time and anger to do it.”
Duro said that the incident most likely took place between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday, based on reports from members who were at the run or passed by it that night.
SUDS members have no idea as to who did it nor what the motive may have been. The group is now taking steps to fix the memorial and replace the tags.
“At first I was really angry,” Duro said. “But I’m going to fix this and I’m not spending my energy getting upset.”
Duro, who started the memorial in 2013, has kept a log of the names of all the dogs and people who have passed away over the years. He is the record keeper, so to speak. “When a dog passes away, I send the owner my condolences and buy a tag.”
Duro said that a member of SUDS will be donating about $250 to replace the tags, with each tag costing about $2.
“It’s been disheartening. But I’m not going to let one bad person define our dog run,” Duro said. “This park [run] is doing really well and 99 percent of people do the right thing.”