The recent killing of a small dog by two larger dogs in Schenectady is prompting a proposal for a statewide dangerous dog alert system.
Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Glenville, is calling for state legislation requiring online alerts when anyone is convicted of having a dangerous dog.
He said Templeton, a Schenectady terrier, would not have died if his owner had known there were dangerous dogs on Dean Street.
“If she had known ... she wouldn’t have walked her dog there,” he said. “Our residents shouldn’t have to live in fear when they go for a walk because of irresponsible dog owners.”
The state Legislature will not be back in session until January. While that gives Tedisco plenty of time to draft legislation, it also means nothing will happen soon.
Schenectady Councilman Vince Riggi wants the city to create a similar announcement system right away.
“In the meantime, the city of Schenectady has an obligation to give people as much information as possible to protect their family and pets from irresponsible dog owners,” he said. “At least people, if they want, they could check and see — OK, these three blocks, a dog’s been cited for being aggressive, I’ll choose a different route.”
He plans to bring the issue up at Monday’s council meeting.
Tedisco proposed the alert system after two dogs jumped out of an open window at a house on Dean Street and attacked Templeton as he was being walked on the other side of the street. The dogs have been implicated in two other attacks prior to the one that killed Templeton. One of the previous attacks led to a dangerous dogs conviction; the other case is pending in Niskayuna Town Court.
Templeton’s owner, Rebecca Cigal, said she would never have walked her dog on that street if she’d known about the dogs’ history.
If Tedisco’s legislation passes, other owners will be able to find out what blocks to avoid — with a bit of research. He envisions something much less comprehensive than the sex offender registry. Municipalities would simply announce online every dangerous dog conviction. They would describe the block on which the dog lived, but not the address or the owner’s name.
In addition to alerts through Facebook, Twitter or text messaging, Tedisco wants every municipality to add a “dangerous dog alert” page to their websites.
“There would be a spot on the website for it. That should be fairly simple,” he said.
Without a formal list, walkers and joggers would have to search through a municipality’s Facebook posts or Twitter page to create their own list of the alerts.
Tedisco, who successfully pushed for Buster’s Law, increasing the penalties for severe animal abuse, said owners should also be required in court to notify their municipality if they move with the dog, so their alert could be updated. Alerts would be deleted after about five years, he said.
He hopes it will reduce dog attacks.
“Will it solve all of them? No, dogs can run for miles,” he said. “At the very least we have heightened transparency, we have more awareness.”