Fort Greene Park Users and Pets Society (PUPS) was formed in 1998 when three people saw the need to unify the dog owners that frequented Fort Greene Park in order to keep off-leash rules legal in the park.
Our first 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 nearly 1,000 members strong. We continue to host our annual dog costume contest, provide bag dispensers in the park, volunteer for park clean-ups, and help local shelters and dogs in need. We also police ourselves to be responsible dog owners.
To prove our dedication to the park's beautiful grounds, and to reinforce our policy of self-enforcement, PUPS has 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, plant new gardens, and work on drainage projects. PUPS officers were designated as official NYC Park Wardens in 2001, 2002, and 2004.
Over the years, PUPS has held other dog-centered events, published newsletters, calendars featuring Fort Greene dogs, and now has an active Instagram, Facebook page and Twitter account. We've also hosted thank-you breakfasts for NYC Parks Department workers to show our appreciation for their hard work.
Firmly established as responsible dog owners, we worked for years to have a dog-friendly water fountain installed with help and funding from Councilperson Letitia James. Members' persistence and donations helped accomplish this major goal in 2008.
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 legal expenses associated with this effort, 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 its original core mission (codifying the off-leash law), PUPS now primarily exists as a social organization for area dog owners. PUPS members can interact on a Facebook page, receive the PUPS e-mail newsletter, and volunteer for our events and other park activities.