I am a veterinary assistant in Manhattan and long-time animal welfare advocate. I was on my way home at 7:15pm this evening walking south on the East side of Washington Street in the west village when I saw a greyish white Pittbull type dog in a filthy pink cable knit dog sweater and a dirty white rope with a knot at the end walking toward the corner on Charles Street. As I saw nobody in sight except for other passers by who were equally concerned about this personless dog, and afraid she would walk into the street, I called her to me. She came right to me, was very friendly, let me pet her head, and wagged her tail. I took up her dangling leash and started walking around the corner with her, hoping someone would run up to us and claim her. There was nobody out there except one woman who was hailing a cab and said, "Oh good, I thought she was lost." I responded, "I'm afraid she is lost. She isn't mine". So the dog pulled me across Washington Street and then south across Charles Street to the door of Beasty Feast pet food store. We went in and I asked the woman at the cash register if she knew this dog, and she said, "Yes, that's Scout. She belongs to George across the street at the bike shop. They let her out all the time". I told her that Scout had pulled me here and she said that's probably because she wanted treats and the woman fed Scout some treats and handed me a couple to help lead her back to the bike shop. I cross the two streets and head fir the bike shop with her on leash. There was a customer pumping his tires outside as well as a man with dark hair who seemed to work there. I asked that man if he is George and he said, "No, but George is inside", so I then asked if this dog belongs to him or this shop and he said Yes. I told him that she was wandering dangerously close to the street and no person was in sight. I told him I was close to hopping in a cab and taking her home. He said she's fine and would never go into the street. I said, "Well, first of all, having a dog off leash is illegal, and secondly you are endangering her life as she could find something interesting to cross the street for even if she's never done it before - there's always a first." He got very defensive and insisted he had worked with her there at the bike shop for five years and knows her well. I told him I have been involved with dog training and veterinary care for many, many more years than five and have seen plenty of instances in which dogs display unpredictable behavior and said, "So as well as you think you know her, she's an animal and has her own mind." He snarkily retorted, "Well, as well as YOU think YOU know her, you're wrong. Have you been her vet for five years?" I told him that irrelevant and that it's an animal welfare issue and he ought to stop being so defensive and recognize it is not in her best interest. I explained that additionally dogs off leash encountering dogs on leash can be problematic. I started to walk away as I was getting no where with this stubborn guy, and Scout started to follow me. He told Scout not to go with me and she didn't listen to him at all. I had to stop her and turn her around, and I patted her and told her I was sorry she's being neglected. He heard me and said, "Oh yah, we're so mean to her. Go f**k yourself!" I walked away silent. Scout went in the bike shop with this nasty guy. I feel the need to report this. According to the woman at Beasty Feast, they let her out off leash all the time. I reported this act of neglect to the ASPCA who will send a law enforcement officer there to tell them the same thing I told them, only this time maybe they'll listen.
Best Place to Rent a Bike - 2010
Hudson Urban Bicycles
One of the greatest places to ride your bike in New York City is the West Side Highway greenway, which features protected, off-the-street paths with amazing views running most of the length of Manhattan (not that that's an excuse not to wear a helmet!). And for proximity and convenience to the path, we love Hudson Urban Bicycles, a shopping and rental joint run by bike pioneer and pedicab designer George Bliss (he coined the term "critical mass") that's just a block and a half from greenway access. There, you can buy a new or used bike or rent one for a day or an hour (bike plus helmet), all for highly reasonable prices. HUB is a functioning shop as well, and they'll assemble bikes and fix you up should your machinery suffer any unexpected breakdowns, or, say, suddenly need a basket. And they're nice, with none of the bike-snobbery attitude of certain shops. In fact, HUB almost has a summer-camp feel, with a mascot dog hanging out around the shop, and a variety of young, helpful staffers you would have coveted as camp counselors. In keeping with the communal aspect, the store hosts bimonthly themed open-mic nights—poetry reading, storytelling, (acoustic) music making, and the like—for participants to share among the wheels. 139 Charles Street, 212-965-9334, hudsonurbanbicycles.com