More residents are getting their dogs vaccinated to comply with the city’s licencing rules.
An additional 700 dogs have been licensed this year in response to the public campaign urging licensing.
But City Clerk Charles Thorne estimates that there are 10,000 or more dogs left to go.
“I think it’s going to take two to three years to get to 80 to 90 percent compliance,” he said.
What he found most surprising was the number of owners who could not immediately license their dogs because they had never given them a rabies vaccine.
“With the new push [for licensing], a lot of people went out and got the vaccination for the first time,” he said.
That’s all that’s required to get the yearly license, which is $13.50 for neutered dogs and $20.50 for unneutered dogs. Senior citizens get a $10 discount.
Thorne said the price is so low that he doubts it would stop anyone.
“If you can’t afford to register your dog, you shouldn’t have your dog. You can’t afford to feed your dog,” he said.
Spurred by 2011 Mauling
Thorne has been pushing dog-related controls ever since a woman was mauled by a loose dog in 2011.
He proposed new regulations requiring owners to hold insurance, but the City Council didn’t go along with it. Then he asked for funds to send seasonal workers door to door to make sure every dog in the city is licensed.
That, too, was rejected. Council members questioned whether he would raise enough money through licenses to cover the cost of the workers.
So he took to the streets, setting up licensing booths at festivals, street fairs, neighborhood meetings and farmers markets.
At one vaccination clinic, he licensed 50 dogs.
Revenue up $4,000
So far, he’s raised $4,000 more than he had in the previous 12 months.
Using those figures, he plans to ask again for the funds to run a city-wide licensing program next year.
State health records show that many dogs in the city aren’t licensed. On average, each year 40 people in Schenectady must get a series of rabies vaccinations because they were bitten by an unlicensed dog whose owner had no proof of vaccination.
In some of those cases, the dog was considered unvaccinated because it ran away and could not be found later.
But Thorne said his work this year has proven to him that many dogs in the city aren’t vaccinated.
He hopes enforcing the dog-license law will force owners to get those vaccinations.
safety and legal issue
“I guess it’s like seat belts,” he said. “We should do it so that we’re safer. But the bottom line is it’s the law.”
Owners can get their pets vaccinated for free. Schenectady County holds a series of vaccination clinics throughout the year. The last one for this year is Oct. 19 at Princetown Town Hall. Cats and ferrets will be vaccinated from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., and dogs from 11 a.m. to noon.