"There is no mandated education on animal control in New York state," Crawmer said. "The average township doesn't know what the dog control officers they hire are even doing. I don't really think it's the town's fault; they are just unaware."
Crawmer said most animal control officers are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even though they are paid as "part-time employees" by a municipality, and the individual's level of knowledge and expertise can vary from person to person.
"It's not smart and it's not safe," Crawmer said, adding that an increased level of education and training for animal control officers will benefit everyone. "I can't think of an animal an animal control officer will not get a call on."
The CDACOA also hopes to use technology in order to communicate and bring animals back to their homes, no matter how far they wander.
For many area pet owners, a missing animal can be the beginning of a prolonged, frantic search for their four-legged family member. Often, the search can end in heartbreak instead of a teary-eyed reunion.
"We want to establish a means of communication, probably through the Internet," Watt said. Individual animal control officers could put up pictures and descriptions of animals they find on a Web site, or ask one another questions about animals they don't know about.
Watt said the Internet could be used to bring the local municipalities together instead of using individual resources to handle cases. He said the association could especially benefit neighboring municipalities, which could be used for standby assistance when an officer is out on a call, similar to mutual aid provided by fire departments.
"One of the big issues for lost or stray dogs is when it goes into another municipality," Crawmer said. "Unfortunately, I think a lot of dogs could have been returned who weren't because of a lack of communication."