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Pinegrove group settles dog dispute

The dogs have had their day in a Hamburg dispute over companion animals. But they've also gone away.

Housing Opportunities Made Equal announced that two former residents of the Pinegrove Park housing development have been awarded $20,000 as settlement in a 4-year-old case involving their dogs and the homeowners association.

HOME and Pinegrove Park's attorneys both declined to name the residents.

But HOME Executive Director Scott Gehl said the size of the settlement was a reflection of the retaliatory nature of the homeowners association's action.

"Clearly they enacted . . . policies in a retaliatory measure against the couple for their initial complaint," Gehl said.

The couple had won an initial ruling entitling them to have the dogs in Pinegrove Park because the man needed a service animal.

According to HOME, the man and his wife bought a pair of miniature Schnauzers as service animals.

Within months, the homeowners association passed rules limiting what the couple could do with their dogs.

New rules said garages could only be used for cars and property, and had to be closed other than for entering and exiting. That meant the dogs couldn't be kept in the garage with a fence keeping them in.

The association made rules for companion animals that specified lengths of leashes and how they could be tethered.

The case took four years to make it through the legal system.

It was was settled this month, with Pinegrove Park admitting no guilt but paying the settlement. The couple, meanwhile, has moved out of New York State.

Joseph Saeli Jr., the attorney for Pinegrove Park, said the current Pinegrove Park doesn't much resemble the group that was there when the suit was filed.

Two-thirds of the housing units have changed hands, Saeli said. Four of the five board members have also changed.

"Even though we've agreed to the settlement, the majority of the people who are going to pay for it weren't there then," Saeli said.


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