Changes are coming to the city-run animal shelter.
After complaints from animal activists, the police department is putting together a “comprehensive plan” for the shelter, City Council President Margaret King said Tuesday.
The council might call a special meeting as early as Friday to discuss the plan, she said. No details were released Tuesday, however.
The council has heard many complaints from activists in the past few weeks in the wake of a dog-on-dog attack that left one dog dead. The two dogs that attacked were euthanized, to many activists’ dismay. But while the dogs were held in the new city shelter, activists complained that conditions were inhumane.
The dogs are fed and given water just once a day, and animal control officers clean the kennels with a hose once or twice a day, according to Assistant Police Chief Michael Seber. They usually only walk the stray dogs — dogs held after attacks are generally considered too dangerous to walk, he said.
Other than walks, the dogs are kept indoors, in concrete runs. There are windows, but the runs themselves do not go outside the building.
After complaints began, city officials said they were willing to evaluate how to safely add outdoor runs. It’s a tricky procedure, because dogs can’t be allowed to infect each other and “kennel cough” can be spread through air and ground.
They also pledged to set up a website with photos and descriptions of stray dogs so owners could reconnect with lost pets.
Activists said they weren’t satisfied with that and protested at the last two council committee meetings, asking for more. The dogs should all be walked, said protester Beth Jacobs of Niskayuna, who attended a small protest Tuesday, and their kennels should be cleaned more frequently.
“We know they’re going to go to the bathroom more than once a day,” she said.
The family of the dogs that were euthanized took photos of one, a pit bull named Vic, with feces stuck to his upper right front leg. Under the feces were two bloody sores, which demonstrators showed at the protest and Jacobs said were clearly the result of abuse.
Protester Laura Brown of Scotia said she, too, was moved by the plight of dogs who might be left in their own feces.
“I heard on Facebook of how the animals are being kept,” she said. “I think we can do better than that for any of God’s creatures.”