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Editorial: Local animal control remains a big problem

Editorial: Local animal control remains a big problem

City must ramp up effort, enlist others' help

Wednesday’s story about the abandoned hound-mix puppies, whose adorable faces graced the front page of The Gazette’s local news section and of several local TV news telecasts, had a sad ending: Both of the surviving pups had to be euthanized because of a variety of health issues. Almost immediately, readers began to express their shock and sadness over the dogs’ fate, and outrage over their mistreatment. But as the veterinary technician in Wednesday’s story made abundantly clear, this sort of thing happens rather frequently in Schenectady.

The point is, the city’s considerable animal control problem isn’t getting better, it’s getting worse. Too many people continue to take in cats and dogs, and either can’t make a commitment to care for them, or do so for awhile and then lose interest or the means to continue. Pet ownership is a long-term commitment, both in terms of time and money, but too many people don’t seem to realize this or don’t take the responsibility seriously.

How to deal with the results? The city (where the problem is most acute) needs to put more resources into enforcement of licensing and leash laws and of education about proper pet care, including spay and neutering. The former is self-financing: revenues from license fees and fines will pay for added personnel and other costs. The latter can be accomplished with the help of outside nonprofit organizations (e.g. the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Animal Protective Foundation). Unfortunately, they don’t all see eye to eye with one another.

Another decent idea is to enlist the help of area veterinarians, as a letter writer suggested Friday.

Of course, all of these are already being done to some extent. What’s needed is an intensified, more cooperative effort — starting with an acknowledgement by public officials that the problem is serious, and with an action plan rather than the usual lip service.

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