Animal Control Officer Richard Schuyler’s time is spent catching stray dogs, aiding sick companion animals and capturing wild ones. He’s even been sprayed by a skunk.
City officials took a step to recognize Schuyler’s importance Tuesday by authorizing a $7,000 salary increase to $27,000 per year and allocated him to a pay grade within the CSEA contract. Previously, Schuyler was a flat-rate employee who was not eligible for raises based on the number of years he spent in the position.
Schuyler has been a city employee for 21⁄2 years.
Schuyler handles all kinds of animal-related issues, from investigating animal abuse claims to capturing small wild animals.
After the skunk incident, Deputy Police Chief Victor Hugo said, “I had to tell him to go home because he was polluting the whole public safety building.”
A resolution accepting the new terms of Schulyer’s contract was originally denied by the Common Council but was reintroduced by Alderman Richard Leggiero on Tuesday.
“The problem with animals in the city is not getting any smaller; it’s getting bigger, and we need this man,” Leggiero said.
Animal issues seem to be getting a lot of attention in the city lately, from the case of a mutilated dog found on Prospect Street to a loose cow to countless cases of feral cats and even coyotes.
Schuyler said he frequently gets calls for coyote sightings on upper Church Street, where a family of five coyotes tends to roam.
Once Schulyer tried to trap a coyote in the area that was bothering a resident’s pet, but for the most part the coyotes appear healthy and are not a danger to the community.
City officials eliminated a stipend in the animal control officer’s budget to deal with pigeon issues within the city, effectively cutting Schuyler’s salary during this year’s budget process.
The city of Amsterdam CSEA unit negotiated with the city outside of the regular labor contract negotiations and came up with a proposal to get him back to where he was at least, Hugo said.
Alderwoman Kim Brumley, C-3rd Ward, who voted against the resolution, said she thought this would give opportunities other city employees to go around the negotiation process and allow them to individually make a plea to the Common Council.
“I understand him wanting a raise, but I believe this is circumventing the contract negotiation process and opening up the opportunities for each individual to make a plea to the council individually,” Brumley said.
The animal control officer is not a member of the police force, but his budget is controlled by Hugo and he works out of the public safety building.
“We’ve had no complaints on him as far as job performance. He’s knowledgeable, has training and was looking for other employment because he came in at one level and then had his salary reduced, which put a crimp in his lifestyle,” Hugo said.
Schuyler works weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., so calls regarding animals during the night and on weekends are normally handled by a police officer.