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RED BANK: THE DOG NIGHTS OF SUMMER?

Dogs at last month’s Red Bank Street Fair. Mayor Pasquale Menna says he’s working on a recurring dog-friendly event for this summer.  (Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Red Bank’s elected officials had canines on the brain Wednesday night, as dog-related issues came up several times during the course of the bimonthly council meeting.

Mayor Pasquale Menna said that he and Councilwoman Sharon Lee had recently attended a meeting at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital to plan an event he referred to as the “Dog Days of Summer in Red Bank,” a creative endeavor looking to pair downtown nightlife and dog-friendly activities.

“I consider it a very cool, progressive idea, based somewhat off the European model of including pets in life,” Menna said.

Though short on details, Menna said the event would likely take place on weekday evenings, to avoid peak hours at restaurants and businesses, and would include placement of doggie bowls outside restaurants, volunteers from the ASPCA to address any health needs, dog “bouncers” to make sure all pets stay in line, and unspecified activities.

Menna, owner of an 11-year-old white Labrador named Bella, said that more details would be available in the coming weeks, but that the event would likely be held multiple times throughout the summer.

“Other towns have had what they call ‘dog-friendly events,’ where they have a tent set up for all the dogs to sit in while people can go to bars,” Menna told redbankgreen. “What we want to do is total human-dog integration: have a fun, social event that people and their pets can enjoy, because, like I said before, dogs are really part of the family.”

Resident and Republican council candidate Suzanne Viscomi brought a canine-related issue to the plate during the public portion of the meeting, asking officials to clarify an ordinance that prohibits habitual barking by dogs.

“I’ve heard people complain that they tell the police their neighbors’ dogs have been barking, and the police don’t come,” Viscomi said. “As a dog owner, I’d like to know what you guys consider habitual barking. Is it just a few minutes? And if you could maybe clarify the ordinance for pet owners and residents who don’t have dogs that don’t like barking.”

Menna acknowledged that Viscomi brought up a good point, and went on to say that in his opinion the ordinance has done its job and is broad enough to meet any legal challenge.

“Those types of ordinances need to be drafted in a very general way,” said borough Attorney Daniel O’Hern. “Is an hour too much? Is two hours? A few minutes would never fit under the definition of ‘habitual,’ so I don’t think you would need to worry about that.”

Though O’Hern indicated he believed the existing law to be sufficient for a fact-sensitive issue such as this, he would look into the specifics of the wording of the ordinance.

Menna also declared the week of May 5 to May 11 “Pet Week” in Red Bank, concurrent with National Pet Week, and reminded residents of the borough’s licensing ordinance for dogs and cats, which he said many weren’t complying with.

“The reason [licensing] is so important is because if, god forbid, you lose your pet, it may be too late by the time you are contacted,” m Menna said. “Without identification, there’s no way for us to contact you.”

“It’s very important if you do love your pets that you come by and make sure they are identified with our borough clerk so we have a registry in Red Bank to protect them and to protect your families,” he added.

Remember: Nothing makes a Red Bank friend happier than to hear "I saw you on Red Bank Green!"
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