The town of Malta has a new animal control officer and higher dog licensing fees.
Patrick Hussey was named to the part-time position at Monday’s 2015 reorganizational meeting, a week after the decision to terminate the previous animal control officer, Dominic Refino. Peter Ostrander will continue to be deputy animal control officer.
Refino wasn’t reappointed to the $8,133-a-year position because town officials said they’ve received numerous complaints about his interactions with the public, including issuing license expiration summonses to people who no longer owned dogs.
Refino was notified he wouldn’t be reappointed on Dec. 30, the day after public discussion of the complaints at a Town Board meeting.
Refino has defended himself, saying he was only following state Department of Agriculture and Market Law. He has called the dismissal political, noting that the town Republican Committee notified him Dec. 29 that it could not support his reappointment.
Also at the organizational meeting, the board increased the fee for licensing a spayed or neutered dog from $6 to $9.50 annually and the fee for licensing an unspayed or unneutered dog from $11.50 to $17.50.
Town Councilman Peter Klotz said the increase is modest and will help support an enumeration program to be sure all dogs living in the town are registered and licensed. It is still less money than many surrounding communities charge, he said.
Refino began an enumeration program last year that has been successful, adding 530 new dog registrations, bringing the total to about 1,400.
Klotz said the town supports the dog count because it wants to be sure all dogs are registered and property vaccinated against diseases like rabies.