Schenectady County

Schenectady mail carriers to join in dog control

The police and the U.S. Postal Service will join forces to rout out dangerous dogs in the city, Acti

The police and the U.S. Postal Service will join forces to rout out dangerous dogs in the city, Acting Mayor Gary McCarthy said Monday.

Mail carriers will report aggressive dogs, whether or not they attack.

The city will also give mail carriers a list of every address with a licensed dog. That means carriers can report illegal dogs as well, if they cross-reference the list.

“In the past, they’ve only notified the police or animal control if there was an actual incident,” McCarthy said.

Police Chief Mark Chaires and Corporation Counsel L. John Van Norden are still researching ways to help police enforce laws against dangerous dogs.

McCarthy backed away from Van Norden’s proposal to ban certain breeds that some homeowner’s insurance companies won’t cover. Those breeds include pit bulls, which were responsible for the two attacks last month.

McCarthy said banning entire breeds may be too much. He wants “tools to respond to this in an appropriate manner,” he said.

That means better enforcement, he added.

He’s also discussing the issue with the county Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Mathew Tully, chief humane law enforcement officer of the chapter, wants to work with the city by ticketing the owners of unlicensed dogs. But Tully stressed that he won’t tell his officers to start writing tickets until city officials ask him to do it.

“What we don’t want to do is go in there and overstep our bounds,” he said.

The SPCA has state authority to write tickets and seize animals. But the county chapter is very small, with just 11 certified officers and an annual budget of $25,000. There’s not enough money for regular patrols, Tully said.

“So if there’s people whose job it is to do that, it makes sense for them to do it,” he said. “If they’re going to fail in doing their job, we’re duty-bound to do it.”

If the SPCA starts running regular patrols, he warned, he would expect a share of fines paid by dog owners who are ticketed. But if the SPCA is simply invited to help out, he said, he would not expect to share any of the revenue.

“We want to make sure the citizens of Schenectady are safe,” he said. “We want to make sure the animals are protected.”

Animals that aren’t licensed are more often neglected, he said.

McCarthy said he and Tully are still discussing the SPCA’s potential role.

In other business at Monday’s City Council meeting, the council agreed in committee to waive most building permit fees for the flood victims from storms Irene and Lee.

Instead of the normal fees, property owners will pay $20 to receive all relevant permits, including electrical and plumbing work, if they apply in the next three months. Those who have already paid for permits will get a refund.

The council will also urge the Historic District Review Commission to hold extra meetings to review the flood victims’ renovation plans. Most of the properties are in the Stockade Historic District, where exterior work must first be approved by the commission.

About 100 properties were flooded, McCarthy said.

“So it’s not a huge number of properties,” he said, arguing that it wouldn’t cost the city an unreasonable amount of money to inspect each home without collecting the permit fees that normally pay for those inspections.

“We still want people to apply for permits,” he added, emphasizing that inspectors will insure that the work is done properly.

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