Thanks to a bill sponsored by Brooklyn Councilmember Rafael Espinal Jr., Brooklynites will soon have a safe harbor to keep their doggies secured while going shopping in local businesses. Last Tuesday, City Council passed Espinal's legislation to establish a pilot-program for high-tech pet harbors that will take residence on the borough's sidewalks this fall.
Developed by Navy-Yard based manufacturer DogSpot, the company's co-founder Chelsea Brownridge needed a solution for her own furry "pawl" Winston, a high-energy terrier mix rescue high-energy who "suffers from FOMO (fear of missing out)" and doesn't like staying at home.
"For a long time, it was difficult taking Winston around the city with me because so many places don't allow dogs inside," described Brownridge on DogSpot's website. "I wouldn't tie him up because, like many, I worried he'd get loose, get scared or be stolen. Sometimes, Winston needed to stay home more often than either of us wanted just because I'd go into a store for a few minutes where he wasn't allowed. I hated that Winston and I were missing out on lots of extra walks and adventures together."
So she created the DogSpots which take up little space but provide a secure and air-conditioned vet-grade dog house which are accessible via membership card or a free mobile app.
To New Yorkers, these pet harbors may not be new; they first showed up on the city's sidewalks in 2017 but were subsequently banned by the NYC Department of Transportation. The agency issued a cease and desist order for the harbors' use of sidewalk space, even though the company had the permission of local business owners.
"Instead of supporting the innovation of a woman-owned and Brooklyn-manufactured business, New York City took a backward approach by removing all pet harbors without warning," said Espinal. "It's our city's job to create an environment where small businesses can thrive, and this pilot program will do just that for pet harbors. Pet harbors are a win-win innovation; they're good for businesses, good for dog-owners and good for dogs."
The new pilot program will roll out within the next 180 days, according to Espinal's office. Details such as where specifically these harbors will launch first still have to be clarified. According to DogSpot's website, there are currently four locations spread around the Navy Yard.