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Editorial: Dangerous dogs require city to act

Friday, July 25, 2014
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It’s a shame that it took the death of Templeton, the 8-year-old terrier attacked while being walked on a leash down a quite residential street in Schenectady last month, for authorities to realize that dogs attacking other dogs can be just as serious an issue as dogs attacking people.

They need to be handled accordingly.

As last Wednesday’s Gazette story indicated, Templeton died a week after being mauled by two vicious dogs — a pit bull and bull mastiff — that allegedly jumped out the window of its owner’s house to get at the animal.

It’s probably little more than dumb luck that Templeton’s owner, Rebecca Cigal, and two Samaritans who tried to free him from the clutches of the attackers, weren’t themselves injured.

That’s often what happens in such cases. In fact, an investigation after the June 30 attack determined that these very dogs had been involved in a similar incident last August, in which they’d knocked down a man to get at another dog.

In hindsight, it’s rather obvious that the two dogs, declared vicious at the time, should have been impounded. But as so often seems the case in Schenectady, Sean McKearn and his dogs were given a pass.

And not just once, apparently: Shortly before this year’s June 30 attack, McKearn’s dogs attacked another dog in nearby Niskayuna (Dean Street is right near the municipalities’ border).

But authorities in that jurisdiction didn’t know anything about last year’s incident in Schenectady, and Schenectady’s didn’t know anything about the one in Niskayuna this spring, so the dogs were once again allowed to stay with their owner - and again go after an innocent bystander.

All municipalities need to act swiftly when an attack like this occurs. Letting a vicious dog return to its neighborhood without any precautions is unacceptable even after one strike — whether the strike is against a human or another animal.

At the very least, such a dog needs to be kept muzzled until its case can be adjudicated, but impounding it makes more sense.

Another idea worth pursuing is requiring owners of dogs deemed dangerous to carry liability insurance.

The Schenectady City Council considered doing this a couple years ago for all dog owners, but balked at the cost. But targeting vicious dog owners would hardly be unreasonable.

Finally, the idea of a dangerous dog registry, as Cigal suggested to a reporter last week, makes a lot of sense, so people who live near offenders will know to steer clear of them when walking their pets.

Such a registry would have to be at least countywide to be of much good, because of the very situation that occurred with Templeton’s attackers. Statewide would be more effective, though, to account for the fact that dangerous dog owners can move about freely.

Information on offenders should be made available to the public, and automatically furnished to pet owners who license their dogs. (This would be a further incentive for people to get licenses.) And no dog with one strike against it — regardless of who its victim is — should be entitled to a third.

 
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July 25, 2014
10:07 a.m.
+0 votes

Press Release July 17,2014 :Tedisco and Riggi Call for New Dangerous Dog Alert
Following savage dog attack, Assemblyman and Schenectady City Councilman call for new alert system to inform residents, dog walkers of those convicted of having a violation and dangerous dog in their neighborhood
Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R,C,I-Glenville) and Schenectady City Councilman Vince Riggi today announced they are pursuing new statewide and local legislation to create a new Dangerous Dog Alert to protect people and pets from irresponsible dog owners.
The legislation, which is being drafted, would instruct municipalities to alert constituents via the web, email or social media when an owner of a dangerous dog has been convicted. The legislation would protect individual privacy by noting the block in which the violator lives in and not any identifying details such as names, addresses or phone numbers.
Since the Dangerous Dog Alerts would piggyback on existing technology such as a town or city website, email, facebook page or twitter, there should not be any additional cost to local governments to inform the public of a dangerous dog on a block through this list of violations.
Tedisco recently met with Rebecca Cigal of Niskayuna, who on June 30th took her dog Templeton for a walk on Dean Street in Schenectady, when two dogs that had two previous charges of attacking others, savagely mauled Templeton, ultimately killing the dog.
“Our residents shouldn’t have to live in fear when they go for a walk because of irresponsible dog owners. We want to mitigate future dangerous dog attacks by giving more transparency and information to the public about dangerous dogs that are in their neighborhood so they can be more aware of their surroundings while out for a walk,” said Tedisco, who was the driving force behind passage of Buster’s animal cruelty felony law.

July 25, 2014
10:09 a.m.
+0 votes

Continued from the Press Release of July 17 2014:“Public safety must be a priority and while Assemblyman Tedisco moves forward with statewide legislation for a municipal Dangerous Dog Alert system, in the meantime, the City of Schenectady has an obligation to give people as much information as possible to protect their family and pets from irresponsible dog owners,” said Riggi, who has requested for the agenda and will be bringing the Dangerous Dog Alert forward for discussion on Monday’s Schenectady City Council Public Safety Committee meeting.
“Our family is devastated by the loss of our sweet dog Templeton who was truly a beloved part of our family. If I had known there was a dangerous dog on that block, I wouldn’t have walked my dog there. With the State of New York and City of Schenectady moving forward with a Dangerous Dog Alert system, this is a positive step forward for public safety. If this alert was in place then Templeton would still be with us. I wholeheartedly endorse this effort,” said Rebecca Cigal, who noted that her 15 year-old son has taken Templeton’s death very hard as the dog was his constant companion.
Tedisco also is sponsoring legislation (A.4518A), the Dangerous Dog Owners Deterrent Act that enables law enforcement to charge an irresponsible dog owner up to a felony if their dog seriously injures someone or another dog, carrying a penalty of up to two years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine.
In August 2011, a 59-year-old woman was viciously attacked and disfigured by three pitbull dogs on Hulett Street in Schenectady while walking home. The owner of the three pitbulls had been cited twice before for harboring dangerous, unlicensed dogs.

July 25, 2014
10:13 a.m.
+0 votes

City Councilman Mootoveran FAILED to bring to a vote Councilman Riggi's Proposal At Monday's Committee Meeting for the Committee that he chairs...of July 21 2014 as reported by Katleen Moore in Tuesday's edition. As released in the above Press Release of what was Proposed last Monday and not even recognized to be discussed and brought up for a vote.

 

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