Dog census would help solve city's animal control problem

Wednesday, September 11, 2013
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Slowly but surely, Schenectady is making progress getting dog owners to license their animals. That’s good news, but it would be a lot better if the City Council stopped pussy-footing with scofflaws, whose dogs cause most of the problems anyway, and made sure they bought licenses.

The best way to do that would be the dog census City Clerk Chuck Thorne has been pushing for but the City Council has balked at paying for. The cost ($22,000) would easily be covered by the revenue from licensing ($13.50 for neutered dogs, $20.50 for unneutered), and subsequent fines for noncompliance.

And even though Thorne’s outreach program has been quite successful — as Monday’s Gazette story indicated, the number of dogs licensed in the city has jumped by almost 50 percent this year, to roughly 2,200 dogs — he estimates there are probably another 10,000 dogs still not in compliance.

It’s tougher for officials to hold an owner accountable for a dog’s behavior if they can’t trace it to its rightful owner, and that’s why licensing is so important — especially in a city like Schenectady, where some serious injuries have been inflicted on both humans and dogs by unlicensed animals. Licensing is also important because of rabies: If a dog does bite someone and there’s no license (which proves the dog was vaccinated), the victim has to get a precautionary series of painful and expensive shots. Officials estimate that 40 people a year in Schenectady, on average, are so victimized.

Thorne has done a good job blanketing community events of all sorts with information stressing the importance of responsible ownership — licensing, vaccination, neutering, etc. City Council could make his job a lot easier, and the city a lot safer, by approving a census.

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September 11, 2013
1:43 p.m.
biwemple says...

There has got to be a database of all these dog licenses managed by the State Ag & Markets where municipalities have access to it. Why is the expense of a separate census requested except to waste taxpayer money, get information that already exists, and repeat the info that is not actively used it seems. If someone calls the city clerk and inquires about a dog's owner and a search of the database comes up with no dog license at that address, then mail a summons to that address and give XX days for the owner to produce a valid license, prove ownership or lack thereof, or pay a sizable fine in addition to licensing the dogs else the animals be seized. As with many censuses the information in them becomes obsolete quicker than a set of encyclopedias, so it needs to be an active database because owners change addresses so often. Give residents a 30 day amnesty period from a certain date to license existing dogs, then lower the boom on those who fail to comply. The process to do this should also be self-funding by those who pay fines for not complying with the law and the reporting system could be a relatively simple voice-mailbox at the clerk's office.

September 12, 2013
6:40 a.m.
gina99 says...

How does a dog census solve our pit bull explosion? Schenectady needs fulltime animal control officers. If they can't afford it the County must. As County Legislator Hoffman promised to get elected and has done nothing about. This is more revenue generation nonsense that does nothing to solve the growing menace on City streets.

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