After Tragedy, Woman Petitions for Dog Park




Tina Pignatelli and her dog Huckleberry.


By Stephen J. Kotz

A Bay Point woman whose pet dog was struck and killed by a Sag Harbor Village truck at Havens Beach a few weeks ago has started an online petition drive to have a portion of the park fenced off as a dog park.

“He was a wonderful, wonderful dog,” said Tina Pignatelli of her 6-year-old golden doodle, Huckleberry. “I felt like I could talk to him and he understood exactly what I was saying.”

Ms. Pignatelli said she has already collected about 160 signatures on her iPetition and has an ultimate goal of 500. She hopes to pitch her idea to the Sag Harbor Village Board at its next meeting, on June 10.

“I’m not trying to go against the village,” she said. “I’m just trying to make this a really beautiful place for people and make it safer for dogs.”

The field on the eastern side of the park is an informal gathering place for dog owners and their pets.

Mayor Brian Gilbride said on Wednesday that even though he was sympathetic to Ms. Pignatelli, he would not be inclined to support her idea. “At the end of the day that is not a dog park, nor is it supposed to be,” he said. “It is really supposed to be a picnic park.”

The mayor added that the village has spent a lot of money trying to clean up Havens Beach and pointed out that a person hired by the village to take water samples there recently remarked that there was a significant amount of dog feces on the beach.

Ms. Pignatelli said she thought most dog owners were conscientious about cleaning up after their pets, adding that she thought a formal, fenced-in dog park might result in them becoming even more diligent.

As part of her proposal, Ms. Pignatelli said she had reached out to landscape architects, Jack Delashmet Associates, and they had agreed to design a landscaped area on the south side of the field, leaving ample space for landing Medevac helicopters and a wide enough gate to accommodate cars if the field is needed for parking for events like the fire department’s annual carnival.

“I’m willing to raise the money,” she said. “I’m not asking for village’s money. I just want their permission.

Ms. Pignatelli said on the fateful day, Huckleberry was in a playful mood when she brought him to the beach to exercise him off his leash. When she tried to get him back in the car, he dashed out in front of a village work truck that was leaving the parking area.

She was able to get the injured dog back in her vehicle, but he died as she drove him to Old Towne Animal Hospital in Southampton. “There was nothing that anyone could have done,” she said. “He came to me during a hard time in my life. I miss him every day.”



  1. Wonderful idea… and I love how Tina has channeled her grief into positive action. The mayor’s response was disheartening. Sag Harbor doesn’t always need to be driven by powerful luxury housing interests alone. How about something for simply caring residents with no commercial or financial agenda?

  2. My wife has known Tina for many years. I met Huck when I first met Tina several summers ago. I instantly fell in love with the both of them!! Huck was an especially great, and beautiful dog!! He was the kind of dog that made you believe that animals have heart and soul. He was the kind of dog that makes people love their pets and treasure them as family. We played with Huck that entire weekend. He took joy in playing fetch with my softball; and he loved diving in for his rubber toy when I threw it far out into the lake. I am deeply saddened by Huck’s loss. I express my deepest condolences to Tina and her family. May Huck never be forgotten; and may his soul rest in peace, and not in vein.

    With Love, and Warm Hugs & Kisses,
    JM & Liz Mariotti

  3. No one sits in that field to “picnic” …The “picnic” section is by the gazebo.. This town should definitely have a dog park, and that is the perfect place. And it’s not fair to blame the dogs for the feces…blame the owners.

  4. Tina…Sorry for your loss. MR. Gilbride we know each other from around town and I know your very competent and your response was what you had to say…Understood…We all know that pretty much since that field has been there it’s been an unofficial dog park and will continue to be so…Locals walk their dogs there year round and our summer resident’s when they are here. Brian I believe there is common sense written all over this…I know you knew this from the beginning so lets make it Official. I think we already have a great name picked out.

  5. Tina, I am terribly sorry for your loss. My house and where I grew up, overlooks the bay and we had many dogs over the years who have enjoyed wandering down to Tides (aka Havens) beach back when leashes were sort of I cannot imagine the devastation and emptiness you must feel. Other’s may have better knowledge and info but as I understand, the open land that exists is, as I recall, deeded to the village under strict stipulations. I’m guessing the Mayor’s comment was indirectly referencing such. There may not be a way to ever create an “official” dog park however, I wonder if a fenced in dog-friendly picnic area might work? Perhaps doesn’t support your cause but it might prevent future tragedies.


    I would love to see this happen. Whether it happens at Havens, Mashimuet or another location in Sag Harbor. I don’t think that the argument that the carnival being displaced is a good one because the amount of pollution that comes along with that decrepit carnival must be an endangerment to that area as well. There are ways around fecal pollution that many dog parks have encountered and utilized, some are even profitable.
    I too loved Huck and adore Tina and Meg, Huck’s Moms. The unofficial dog park has been in operation for many many years and it has always worried me that the lack of a fence would eventually catch up to one of our dogs. I know that dog owners in true dog parks tend to be much more responsible about pet poop. Let’s get this done Gilbride!

  7. E.M. Maxx there are picnics held in that section along with other functions. The Fire Department has picnics down there and I have been to weddings in that area. I am not against a dog park but I do not think that is the appropriate place. Do you know how annoying it is when you are at the beach with your children and someones dog starts running over your blankets, and starts begging for food that your child is eating? I am sure that there is another place in Sag Harbor for a dog park but not there.

  8. This is a great idea!!!!!! Unfortunately with all great ideas ……… We all know how this goes. Whoever has the most $ will win. Whatever it takes to turn this (last) sleepy “country ” town into an un welcoming dump playground for the rich …

  9. In all the years my family and I have lived year-round in and around Sag Harbor, I’ve never heard of anyone having a picnic at Haven’s Beach. Besides, it’s used as a dog park 12 months a year. Why give that up for just a few months of picnics? And furthermore, given the reality of the situation, that people will continue using it as a dog park, why not make it safe? I’m signing that petition now, and sharing it on facebook. Great job, Tina, and I’m sorry for your loss.