Robert Marino, 61, leading voice for city’s dog owners

Robert Marino and his beloved Akita, Bella.

Robert Marino and his beloved Akita, Bella.

BY ALBERT AMATEAU  |  Robert Marino, the president of the New York Council of Dog Owner Groups (NYCdog) and an indefatigable advocate for dogs and dog owners, died Dec. 21 after an 18-month-long battle with brain cancer. He was 61.

“Every dog and dog owner in New York City owes their use of dog runs and off-leash hours to Bob Marino,” said Lynn Pacifico, a longtime West Village resident and dog advocate. “Every dog and dog owner in Greenwich Village, Tribeca and Soho owes their recreational options in large part to Bob’s help and encouragement. I miss his voice and the wise counsel that he gave during our many midnight conversations. He was a natural leader with vision and a realistic sense of what could and could not be accomplished,” Pacifico said.

Robert Marino led the NYCdog group to partner with the Department of Parks and Recreation in 2006 to save off-leash rights in city parks after a legal challenge that sought to enforce leash laws and would have required dogs to be leashed at all times, including in dog runs.

An Upper West Side resident, he appeared several times at Community Board 2 meetings to support Village advocates seeking improvements to local dog runs.

Raised on Long Island, Robert Marino attended Copiague High School where he was editor of the student newspaper, The Maverick, and led the struggle against school newspaper censorship. His anti-censorship efforts brought him to Albany where he confronted the governor at the time, Nelson Rockefeller, on the issue.

Marino graduated from Syracuse University in 1975 with a bachelor’s of arts degree in political science, and soon moved to New York City where he became active in Democratic Party politics. He went on to study real estate finance at Columbia University Graduate School of Business, earning a master’s degree in 1982 and becoming a leading real estate appraiser.

A passionate animal advocate, he adopted many cats and dogs throughout his life. His beloved Akita, Bella, motivated him to help organize NYC dog in 1999 to unite dog owners to promote the establishment and maintenance of dog runs in city parks and to advocate for the designation of off-leash areas.

His sister, Mary Marino McDonnell, took care of him during the last years of his life. His father, with whom he was very close, died shortly after he did.

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