Editor, The Spotlight:
The recent incident involving two abandoned, sick puppies brought to the Schenectady Police made for sensational reporting. However, the news accounts failed to identify the unfortunate dynamic that lead to this incident - too many unwanted and uncared for dogs and cats.
Secondly, New York State law is clear in placing responsibility for stray or discarded dogs on municipalities. In the absence of an animal control officer, the police department is legally obligated to take custody of the animal and to provide veterinary care until it can be safely transported to the city designated shelter.
Thirdly, Schenectady has no contract with any shelter and has depended on private humane organizations like the over-burdened Animal Protective Foundation. APF can hardly be blamed for finally being reluctant to admit animals without a formal arrangement with the city.
It is inaccurate to say the pups were “abandoned as the city is the organization legally responsible for them in the first place. Schenectady collects money specifically designated to provide these services through issuance of dog licenses. We should insist that the city use these revenues for their intended purpose.
The long-term solution is a comprehensive plan for municipalities and animal organizations to work together. Through coordinated spay/neuter initiatives as well as enactment and enforcement of ownership regulations, these incidents can be avoided. As a first step, we need to define where we are, what resources we have, what redundancies are present, and what our unmet needs are.
The Humane Society of the Capital Region is in the process of compiling data for the first comprehensive study in our community - to guide policy and direct resources in the future. The report is expected to be published in the spring.
Kathlene Thiel, President, Humane Society of the Capital Region