Does Schenectady want to solve its dog problem, or not?
The solution to Schenectady’s pesky dog problem would start with the census that City Clerk Chuck Thorne has been urging the City Council to approve. So far, he’s run into a stone wall from council members who seem too timid to address the real problem: scofflaws, many of whom own the dogs that pose the biggest nuisances.
The numbers tell it all: In the mid-1980s, Schenectady had 8,000 licensed dogs. Currently, it has 1,500. Ask any seasoned letter carrier or politician who’s gone door-to-door through the city whether there are more dogs in the city today than there were 25 years ago. We wouldn’t be surprised if a census turned up 1,500 in a single neighborhood!
A census (which Thorne estimates would cost $22,000) would get more dog owners to buy licenses (and the small fine they’d receive for having an unlicensed dog would help pay for the enumerator). In Troy, Thorne says a dog census three years ago nearly tripled the number of licenses.
True, doing a dog census could lead to confrontations with uncooperative scofflaws. But the enumerator could be instructed to quickly back off if he or she felt threatened, and have police pay a visit to the recalcitrant owner.
Revenue from a successful licensing program is key to improving animal control efforts without burdening taxpayers. And the city won’t be able to solve its dog problem without taking that first important step.