Webb Board hears continued case for stricter dog controls

Andreé Newton of Old Forge asked the town board to consider amending the Town of Webb Dog Ordinance to reflect changes that have occurred over the years to the local animal population.

“All the Town of Webb is growing and along with it the dog population,” she said.

Newton said she has noticed an increase in dog ownership in her neighborhood, which seems to be indicative of a town-wide trend.

And dog license statistics confirm that, she said. Indeed Town Clerk records shows 317 dogs to be licensed in 2012, which is up from 220 in the year 2000.

And it’s not that Newton is opposed to dog ownership, she said. “I myself have two dogs,” said Newton.

Rather, the responsibilities of dog owners should be codified in greater detail in the local ordinance, Newton said.

To offer direction, Newton made several suggestions which she said she gleaned through examination of dog laws in other municipalities. The deal with controlling barking and other dog noises, including whining and howling; also with keeping dogs from wandering loose.

Newton said that it has been her experience and that of others in the community that dog related problems have been increasing.

And reported problems are becoming more serious, she said. “The existing ordinance for dog control is 15 years old,” Newton said. “[A revision] will serve to keep the citizens of our community safe from uncontrolled dogs who may threaten the safety of adults and children. Further it will maintain the quiet and peace that the taxpaying citizens deserve.”

Specific suggestions to the town board are as follows:

• First complaint call—Officer will issue a warning with a letter of the Ordinance handed to the dog owner basically informing them to correct the barking problem. • Check and report dog licensure.

• Report of length of time dog barking, howling, whining disturbance— whether 30 minutes or 1 hour is considered a violation during day and/or night. Some town ordinances specify 15 minutes.

• Second call—Officer will issue appearance ticket to dog owner( s) if they have not corrected the problem. May face a $250 fine (as already exists in the ordinance).

• Loose dog reported—first report—owner issued a warning

• Loose dog reported—second report—owner issued an appearance ticket and may face up to $250 fine (as already exists in the ordinance).

• Bite, chase, or harass any person in such manner causing intimidation, or to put such people in reasonable apprehension of bodily harm or injury.

Newton said Agriculture & Markets Law makes the “owner or lawful custodian” of a “dangerous dog” “strictly liable” for medical costs resulting from “injury” caused by such dog to a person, “companion animal,” farm animal or “domestic animal.” Section 121 contains a numberof definitions: The “owner” is aperson who harbors or keeps the dog, according to Newton.

Supervisor Ted Riehle said the town board will continue to examine the dog ordinance with Police Chief John Russell and Town Attorney Richard Frye.

If the board decides that changes are warranted, it could implement them to coincide with the codification of the overall town ordinance, which is currently ongoing, said Attorney Frye.

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