The solution to Schenectady’s pesky dog problem would start with the census that City Clerk Chuck Thorne has been urging the City Council to approve. So far, he’s run into a stone wall from council members who seem too timid to address the real problem: scofflaws, many of whom own the dogs that pose the biggest nuisances.
The numbers tell it all: In the mid-1980s, Schenectady had 8,000 licensed dogs. Currently, it has 1,500. Ask any seasoned letter carrier or politician who’s gone door-to-door through the city whether there are more dogs in the city today than there were 25 years ago. We wouldn’t be surprised if a census turned up 1,500 in a single neighborhood!
A census (which Thorne estimates would cost $22,000) would get more dog owners to buy licenses (and the small fine they’d receive for having an unlicensed dog would help pay for the enumerator). In Troy, Thorne says a dog census three years ago nearly tripled the number of licenses.
True, doing a dog census could lead to confrontations with uncooperative scofflaws. But the enumerator could be instructed to quickly back off if he or she felt threatened, and have police pay a visit to the recalcitrant owner.
Revenue from a successful licensing program is key to improving animal control efforts without burdening taxpayers. And the city won’t be able to solve its dog problem without taking that first important step.