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Under one roof: Multi-county initiative for animal control re-emerges

Currently, before the association sets up such an internal network using the Internet, Crawmer suggests that owners separately contact all of the animal control officers and shelters in their immediate area. A dog can travel far on its own, she said, but it can travel even farther in someone's car.

"The problem is when someone picks up a dog in Troy that they think is lost and then continues driving to Stephentown (Rensselaer County)," Crawmer said as an example. "Then they bring it to their local dog control officer and say they found it in Sand Lake (Rensselaer County). It can be a confusing mess."

There are national Web sites dedicated to finding and posting lost animals, and some smaller local ones, but nothing that brings all of the municipalities and animal shelters together. Jack Woods of the New York State Animal Control Officers Association said he only knew of one other group like CDACOA, located in Western New York.

"All we want is to communicate with each other because the animal control officers can't do it all," said Valerie Lang, an assistant professor who teaches animal cruelty law in Hudson Valley Community College's criminal justice department.

Animal control officers don't have the authority to arrest people for animal cruelty, Lang said. However, Crawmer said she thinks they should.

"There's a lack of training for animal control and they are the front line," Lang said. "But police are mandated to investigate animal cruelty like any other crime, not hand it off to animal control."

Lang said groups like the Rensselaer County Animal Protection Collision, created by the county's former district attorney Patricia A. DeAngelis, help to identify and enforce animal cruelty laws.

Crawmer and Lang both said they hope the association will help to educate the public and bring together animal control officers, police, and everyone else involved with animal law.

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