Dog-Discriminating Co-Op Board Requires DNA Testing For Canines

June 16, 2015 | Prachi Gupta

In the hierarchy of New York real estate, somewhere between the slumlords and the moguls (who are sometimes the same), lie the shadowy figures who sit on Co-Op boards, controlling who gets to live in a building based on a mysterious set of criteria that can easily veer into discrimination. One such board, which oversees the 42-story luxury tower at 170 West End Avenue, is profiling residents based on the breed of their dogs.

“It’s like dog racism essentially,” one resident and dog-owner told DNAinfo, the site that broke the story. “It’s beyond offensive, it’s intrusive.”

The new policy requires tenants to submit a veterinarian-signed certification of their animal’s pedigree, including a percentage breakdown of the breeds for a mixed-breed canine. The board also reserves the right to subject dogs of unknown breeds to a DNA test. The board’s logic, according to a recent letter to residents, is that certain breeds “are not permitted to reside in the building based upon documented information regarding their tendency towards aggressiveness.” Dogs that have 50% or more of these “aggressive” breeds are banned from living in the building.

DNAinfo reports that, while the proof requirements are new, the board has banned 27 breeds since 2011. These include Maltese, Pomeranian, St. Bernards, German shepherds, pit bulls, basset hounds and shih tzu dogs.

Some of the residents are attempting to organize a protest, but if lawyer and New York Co-Cop Bible author Susan Shapiro is right, this may go further still. “Mark my words, there is going to be a lawsuit for dog discrimination,” she said.

(Photo: Steve Baker)