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Running Dogs of the Upper East Side

Controversial size census.


The war between big-dog people and little-dog people has a new battleground. The Parks Department is moving its East 60th Street dog run to the site of the old heliport three blocks uptown, and plans indicate that the 6,200-square-foot run isn’t divided up to separate dogs by weight class. On the Upper East Side, purse-dog capital of America, that’s a problem. Lori Light, owner of a nine-pound Maltese named Rupert, has taken a dog census of 103 buildings near the park. The result (small dogs: 1,148; big dogs: 328) shows, she says, that “78 percent of the dog population is getting less than 19 percent of the space.” “I just feel they don’t treat them like dogs; they act like they’re fragile things that will break,” says Charlie Berns, an advocate for what she calls a “unified run,” though she owns a thirteen-pound Maltese named Stella. Big-dog people further argue that they use the run every day whereas diminutive canines come only on sunny weekends. For now, Parks will put up a temporary fence giving the little dogs their own 1,200 square feet within the new run when it opens.

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