The city council has approved a measure to name the new dog park on the corner of River and Montgomery Streets the “John DeCando Dog Park” after its longtime animal control officer.
Council members praised DeCando for his service to the city over the past 42 years. “Since we have a dog park it deserves a quality name,” said Michael Jackson, who represents the 1st Ward, where the park is located. “
Jackson said the DeCando name represents quality. “He is one of Paterson’s jewels,” added William McKoy, 3rd Ward councilman.
McKoy said DeCando is his neighbor in the 3rd Ward. He adopted a pet dog via the Paterson Animal Shelter from DeCando.
“We appreciate you and your family, chief DeCando. Thanks for calling Paterson home,” said Andre Sayegh, 6th Ward councilman, who also adopted a dog from the Paterson shelter.
Jackson opposed building the dog park. He thought former mayor Jose “Joey” Torres was putting funds into a park for animals that could be better spent on venues used by the city’s young people.
The park cost $230,860 to build. Much of the funds came from federal grants.
“I like that very much. I’m proud and so is my family, my grandkids. Usually, when people pass on, that’s when they get name recognition,” said DeCando reacting to the honor bestowed on him by the city. “We do a lot of good here and people know we do. I do have a couple of critics out there and so be it.”
One of his biggest critic is animal rights activist Alan Rosenberg, who runs the NJ Animal Observer blog. He opposed naming the park after DeCando. Rosenberg mentioned eight separate problems he discovered at the Paterson Animal Shelter after reviewing reams of documents released by the city following a lawsuit.
Rosenberg found the city’s animal shelter had a high kill rate. DeCando dismissed the criticism stating the shelter only puts down vicious and badly suffering animals. However, Rosenberg’s findings disturbed the former mayor. So much so that Torres proposed to relocate the shelter out of the Great Falls National Historical Park and allow for direct adoption from the shelter.
DeCando was born and raised in Paterson. He attended School 18 and graduated from Paterson Catholic High School in 1972. He began working as a housing inspector for Paterson in 1975 and was later promoted to chief animal control officer. The approved resolution states he was recognized by the state’s governor through a proclamation and by the Humane Society of the United States for rescuing animals from the Passaic River.
The chief animal control officer would not say when he plans to retire.
Council members approved the naming measure without opposition on Tuesday night.
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Correction (Oct. 6, 2017): A previous version of this report erronously stated the animal control officer’s last name was “DeCondo” when in fact it is “DeCando.”