September 27, 2009
submitted by Susan Doctrow, president
In spring 2008, a group of concerned dog owners in Arlington incorporated a new not-for-profit organization, Arlington Dog Owners Group (or A-DOG), to improve life for dogs and people in Arlington. A-DOGâ€™s guiding principles are:
â€” Relationships with dogs and other companion animals have numerous benefits to individuals of all ages, and to the community at large.
â€” With dog ownership comes responsibility, not only to promote the health and welfare of oneâ€™s dog, but also to ensure that oneâ€™s dog does not adversely affect the safety of others.
A-DOGâ€™s mission includes:
â€” Advocating for the rights and interests of Arlington dog owners.
â€” Promoting responsible dog ownership, emphasizing respect for the rights and interests of neighbors and the community as well as the welfare of our companion animals.
â€” Educating the community about dog behavior and other factors influencing canine-human interactions.
â€” Working to promote safe, healthy recreational venues for dogs on- and off-leash in Arlington, enabling responsible dog owners to exercise and socialize their dogs.
A-DOGâ€™s founding directors are: Susan C. Ruderman and Susan R. Doctrow (co-presidents); Andrew Fischer; MaryAnna Foskett; Brenda Kokubo; Carrie Moore; Mary Mangan; Ann Smith; Roslyn Smith; and Judy Weinberg
A-DOGâ€™s founding officers are: Susan C. Ruderman (co-President); Susan R. Doctrow (co-President, Treasurer); MaryAnna Foskett (Clerk and Vice President).
Highlights of A-DOGâ€™s second year:
1. First Annual Meeting: The first Annual Meeting was held in September, 2008. A new board of directors and officers were elected and will serve a two-year term, through the Annual Meeting in September, 2010. These are: Susan R. Doctrow (president and treasurer); Andrew Fischer; MaryAnna Foskett (clerk); Brenda Kokubo; Carrie Moore; Mary Mangan; Gian Schauer, Gerald Silberman, Ann Smith (membership director and acting co-president); Roslyn Smith (membership director and vice president); and Judy Weinberg. Please note that â€œacting co-presidentâ€ and â€œmembership directorâ€ are not official positions in the state filings, but the Board has agreed that these individuals serve in this capacity.
2. A-DOG’s “Pawprints” Newsletter: Editorial team Lynda Gutowski, Hank Haddad, and Gian Schauer have produced two issues of the A-DOG newsletter, available on our website and distributed by email to members. The expertise and creativity of our editorial team has resulted in a very professional, informative, and beautiful publication.
4. Town Meeting: More details can be found on our website. The Green Dog plan, sponsored by a town committee but supported independently by A-DOG, was defeated by only 5 votes at Town Meeting, 2009. This is a substantial improvement over what happened last year but, still, Arlington has yet to join many other communities in modernizing its leash law, and/or providing fenced areas that are already legal, to allow off-leash recreation for responsible dogowners. Our plans to promote this include encouraging the town to establish a Dog Owners Task Force, similar to the ones established in Somerville and other communities, to seek ways to provide off leash recreation to responsible dog owners and their dogs.
5. Marketing and Promotion: Thanks to professional efforts by several A-DOG member/volunteers, A-DOG continues to build its reputation with distinction in Arlington. Dan Foskett designed and continues to maintain our website (www.arlingtondogowners.org). The website features our logo, created for us by graphics designer Lisa Berasi during our first year. This logo is also featured on our full-color brochures, designed by Ericka Gray, also during our first year. Lisa joined with Gian Schauer and Ann Smith to produce, with generous help from Arlington Community Media, Inc. (ACMI), a Public Service Announcement (PSA) that has been airing on ACMI cable channels. The PSA emphasizes the core mission of A-DOG, to represent the rights and interests of responsible dog owners through education and advocacy.
6. â€œFriends of A-DOGâ€ program: This program continues, thanks to generous businesses listed on our website. Some of these businesses offer discounts to A-DOG full members; others have provided A-DOG with financial donations or donated goods or professional services. Several businesses or individuals donated prizes given away in a drawing on Town Day.
7. 501(c)(3) Status: Through a detailed application process, A-DOG has now gained recognition by the IRS as a tax-exempt, charitable organization under code 501(c)(3). Contributions to A-DOG, including membership dues, are now considered tax deductible, retroactive to our founding date, May 5, 2008. A-DOG is also registered as a public charity with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
8. Town Day. A-DOG sponsored its second booth at Arlington Town Day on September 26, 2009. Activities at the booth included: (1) Signing up new members and â€œFriends of A-DOGâ€, (2) Collecting signatures on our petition (see below); (3) Selling and taking orders for A-DOG T shirts; and (4) A free drawing for prizes generously donated by Friends of A-DOG businesses. The booth was a great success, in particular, people were standing in line to sign our petition. Clearly, there is much interest and support for our mission in Arlington.
9. Membership: Ann Smith and Roslyn Smith, as our Membership Directors, will issue a report at the Annual Meeting. A membership outreach, by mail, to about 1300 registered dog owners was very successful and our membership now numbers about 400 individuals. Membership cards are distributed to full members to enable their use for discounts at Friends of A-DOG businesses.
10. Petition: In an effort spearheaded by member/volunteer Iain Miller, A-DOG launched an online petition last year, also collecting hand-signed signatures. At Town Day, 2008, we collected 245 signatures. Before Town Day, the total was over 750 and the list continues to grow. Approximately 190 signatures were collected at Town Day, 2009 and we believe that most, if not all, of these are new ones. The list of petition signers, organized by Precinct, thanks to Ann and Roslyn Smith, was presented to Town Meeting members and the Board of Selectmen to support the Green Dog program. We believe that this helped make the vote as very close as it was, and will continue to collect names of our supporters in order to make legal off-leash recreation a reality in Arlington. The Petition can be accessed and signed via our website.
11. MassDOG Founding Membership: This new coalition was envisioned by Michele Biscoe, chairperson of somldog of Somerville and is now a reality. The Coalition of Massachusetts Dogowners Groups (MassDOG) is network of dog-related community organizations in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The leaders of each of these groups meet, usually every other month. MassDOG has met several times already, and has begun to establish its presence and influence, on behalf of responsible dogowners throughout the state. (Sue Doctrow represents A-DOG.) Besides helping one another through sharing of strategy and experience, MassDOG is leading education and advocacy efforts at a statewide level. MassDOG members have been interviewed in some excellent press coverage of the off-leash recreation issue, for example, on WBUR (90.9 FM) and in the Boston Globe. MassDOG member teams, including a team from A-DOG, walked together at the MSPCA Walk for Animals, raising several thousand dollars for the MSPCA/Angell Animal Medical Center. Our own A-DOG team raised over $1500 and the MassDOG teams together raised over $5000. For more details on MassDOG, see our website www.massdog.org.
12. Treasurerâ€™s report: This, too, will be presented at the Annual Meeting. A-DOG has raised approximately $3500 this year, to date, and has approximately $2600 cash on hand to fund its future endeavors.
I believe that our specific activities in the coming year, pending Board approval, should include:
â€” Working with the Green Dog committee to synergize with their efforts and to ensure that the program they develop will serve the interests of our members and other responsible dog owners in Arlington. This includes continuing to advocate for, and to have a role in, a Dog Owners Task Force.
â€” Expanding our membership outreach efforts. This includes encouraging existing full members to renew their memberships (otherwise, they will remain as associate members unless they resign).
â€” Continuing to collect signatures on our petition and to otherwise mobilize support for legal off leash exercise and socialization opportunities for dogs in Arlington.
â€” Forming an Advisory Council of professionals in relevant fields to provide guidance to us as we go forward.
â€” Continuing to sponsor valuable educational and advocacy events in our community, and to participate in appropriate events sponsored by others. For example, it has been suggested, including by a pediatric emergency physician at Town Meeting, that teaching children to interact safely with dogs, and to interpret their behavior, has a significant effect on bite prevention. Arlington dog trainer Bette Yip has established a program to teach children how to safely interact with dogs, and has presented it for other groups, including MayDOG. She would be happy to also present it with us. Another event weâ€™d like to hold would be repeat screening(s) of Prison Pups, perhaps in smaller venues than the Regent, though not necessarily, since that screening in May, 2008 was such a big success. Perhaps we could repeat it as a charitable fundraiser, with co-sponsorship of other MassDOG groups.