Fort Greene Park Users and Pets Society (PUPS) was formed in 1998 when a group of people saw the need to unify the dog owners that frequented Fort Greene Park in order to keep our courtesy off-leash rules in the park.
Our first big event was The Great PUPkin back in 1999, organized by PUPS founder Kath Hansen. This popular event now draws thousands each year, and since 2001 has been held in conjunction with the Fort Greene Park Conservancy's annual Halloween Festival.
In 2003, PUPS became a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. We are now over 1,200 members strong. We continue to host our annual dog costume contest, volunteer for park clean-ups, and help local shelters and dogs in need. We also police ourselves to be responsible dog owners.
To show our dedication to the park, and to reinforce our policy of self-enforcement, PUPS bought, painted, and donated trash cans and installed and filled bag dispensers. PUPS members have also worked alongside the NYC Parks Department in helping clean the park, fill holes, plant new gardens, and work on drainage projects. PUPS officers were designated as official NYC Park Wardens in 2001, 2002, and 2004. We regularly thank our intrepid FGP Park workers by hosting quarterly breakfasts as a way to show we appreciate their hard work.
In 2008, we worked with then-Councilperson Letitia James to finally get a dog-friendly water fountain installed with help and funding from her office and member donations. Where human-only fountains exist, we attach dog drinking bowls for our thirsty canine friends.
Over the years, PUPS has held other dog-centered events, published calendars featuring Fort Greene dogs, and now has an active Instagram, Facebook page and Twitter account. We also keep up with members via periodic enewsletters.
While we are proud of the above accomplishments, PUPS' greatest achievement was as a key player in the 2007 citywide effort that saw the 9:00 p.m.–9:00 a.m. off-leash courtesy rule codified into law. Among other things, we gathered hundreds of signatures, contributed $500 to help pay relevant legal expenses, and made donations to NYCDOG (a citywide coalition of dog owner groups). In 2014, PUPS backed lobbying efforts for the New York State Legislature to pass the Dining with Dogs law; the law went into effect in 2015.
With the accomplishment of codified off-leash laws, PUPS now primarily exists as a social organization for area dog owners. We continue to remain stewards of the park by policing ourselves, being the eyes and ears of the park as its most regular users, and continuing to participate in the larger citywide umbrella of dog-owner groups.