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SPCA, county reveal settlement details

Offender fines will provide funding for animal control enforcement, sheltering

Schenectady County SPCA Chief Mathew Tully discusses details of a settlement reached with the county on Monday, Oct. 17, outside the Schenectady County Courthouse.

Schenectady County SPCA Chief Mathew Tully discusses details of a settlement reached with the county on Monday, Oct. 17, outside the Schenectady County Courthouse. Photo by John Purcell.

— A lawsuit has spurred a new approach to animal control in hopes of improving enforcement and providing funds to address the sheltering of animals.

Schenectady County and the county SPCA on Monday, Oct. 17, announced details of a forthcoming agreement to be approved by the County Legislature next month. Under the proposal, Schenectady County SPCA officers would become county appointed animal control officers for the purpose of enforcing licensing and control of dogs.

Revenue generated from fines would be split evenly between the Sheriff’s Office and SPCA. The 50 percent given to the SPCA would go towards further enforcement and the Sheriff’s Office’s half would go into an account to be used for housing animals.

Any tickets issued by the SPCA would now be under penal law instead of civil law, so the District Attorney’s Office would prosecute such cases moving forward. City or town attorneys previously handled the cases.

In addition to funding being available to the SPCA, the county will also provide basic vehicle maintenance and when possible donate surplus operating vehicles to the SPCA.

SPCA Chief Mathew Tully said the settlement is “99.9 percent” complete and he doesn’t foresee and major changes before it’s finalized.

“There is some minor tweaking … I don’t believe there is anything here that is going to impede a settlement,” Tully said. “That agreement is going to have to the County Legislature for appointment of the SPCA as animal control officers and then final execution by the county manager.”

The plan resulted from a lawsuit filed by the SPCA in the county Supreme Court on Oct. 7 against the county Sheriff’s Department, alleging a violation of the state Agricultural and Markets Law mandating the department must take custody of any animal belonging to someone arrested by the SPCA. The SPCA is dropping all claims in the lawsuit as part of the agreement.

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