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Dog census would help solve city's animal control problem

Dog census would help solve city's animal control problem

A reasonable user fee to police the situation

Slowly but surely, Schenectady is making progress getting dog owners to license their animals. That’s good news, but it would be a lot better if the City Council stopped pussy-footing with scofflaws, whose dogs cause most of the problems anyway, and made sure they bought licenses.

The best way to do that would be the dog census City Clerk Chuck Thorne has been pushing for but the City Council has balked at paying for. The cost ($22,000) would easily be covered by the revenue from licensing ($13.50 for neutered dogs, $20.50 for unneutered), and subsequent fines for noncompliance.

And even though Thorne’s outreach program has been quite successful — as Monday’s Gazette story indicated, the number of dogs licensed in the city has jumped by almost 50 percent this year, to roughly 2,200 dogs — he estimates there are probably another 10,000 dogs still not in compliance.

It’s tougher for officials to hold an owner accountable for a dog’s behavior if they can’t trace it to its rightful owner, and that’s why licensing is so important — especially in a city like Schenectady, where some serious injuries have been inflicted on both humans and dogs by unlicensed animals. Licensing is also important because of rabies: If a dog does bite someone and there’s no license (which proves the dog was vaccinated), the victim has to get a precautionary series of painful and expensive shots. Officials estimate that 40 people a year in Schenectady, on average, are so victimized.

Thorne has done a good job blanketing community events of all sorts with information stressing the importance of responsible ownership — licensing, vaccination, neutering, etc. City Council could make his job a lot easier, and the city a lot safer, by approving a census.

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