Editorial: Attack prompted positive changes
Maybe Templeton didn't die in vain.
The death of the 8-year-old terrier in June has resulted in several positive changes in the city ever since Templeton was fatally attacked by two larger dogs while on a walk with his owner on a downtown Schenectady street.
Since the incident, community awareness of dangerous dogs has risen, with citizens voicing their opinions on all sides of the issue. The attack prompted new calls for state and local legislation to create dangerous-dog/owner registries and public-alert-notices showing where dangerous dogs live. The city now lists regularly-updated information on its website about incidents that "may be of community concern" involving dogs.
The attack also prompted vigorous debate over the responsibilities of people who own large breeds that have reputations for being dangerous. That could lead to tougher penalties and restrictions for irresponsible dog owners.
After the pitbull and mastiff responsible for the attack on Templeton were taken from a private animal shelter, relatives of the dog's owner raised concerns about conditions at the city-run animal shelter.
Allegations that the animals kept in the shelter are fed infrequently and are living in filthy conditions without air-conditioning or exercise led animal rights activists, city officials and the media to do a thorough inspection. While conditions at the shelter were deemed acceptable, the complaint prompted further efforts to improve the facility's conditions and operation.
For example, while it's apparently not cruel to feed a dog just once a day, city officials suggested installation of automatic food and water dispensers to ensure dogs can eat when they're hungry.
The complaint also compelled the city to look into staffing at the facility, including whether they could make greater use of volunteers to supplement the work of animal control officers in exercising, feeding and cleaning up after the dogs.
The incident also has prompted the city to take action to move dogs out of the shelter and into homes. By Labor Day, city officials hope to begin taking photos of each dog whenever it comes to the shelter and post the photos on the city website with information on when and where the dog was found. It's hoped the owners will either come collect their lost pets or that someone will adopt one of them.
The outpouring of interest in the death of Templeton triggered a wave of positive changes, which could ultimately help prevent another dog, or a person, from suffering the same fate.