The Town of Colonie held a public hearing Thursday, March 26, to address a couple of minor changes to the town's dog licensing law, and although the changes prompted few tail wags, they are intended to make it easier for senior citizens to afford the licensing fees and provide more time to reunite lost pets with their families.
Town Clerk Elizabeth DelTorto said it is important for residents to have their dogs licensed in the towns they live in because it is a matter of public safety.
So a dog cannot cause harm to a person or property, she said.
DelTorto said there are more than 8,000 dogs licensed in the town, representing nearly 10 percent of the town's human population. Cats do not require licenses in the Town of Colonie.
DelTorto said town law states that any dog over 4 months old should be licensed, and, by definition, any dog that is "harbored" in the town should be licensed.
If the dog is spayed or neutered, licensing is $6. If the dog is not, the cost of licensing is $14.
The town does offer a discount for senior citizens, which was one of the topics of Thursday's public hearing, as the defined age of a senior citizen for the purposes of dog licensing was increased from 62 to 65.
The cost for a senior citizen to license his or her dog that has been spayed or neutered is $2.50, while the cost to license an unaltered dog is $10.50.
During the public hearing, Colonie resident Jennifer Barone said the discount should be expanded to other groups.
"I think that should be applied to disabled people as well," said Barone.
DelTorto said there is an exemption in place for service or therapy dogs, but Barone wanted the definition broadened.
"I think [the discount] should be applied to all low-income people," she said. "There are a lot of people struggling to pay their bills."