Equal time for cats?
By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong
After a brief and sparsely attended hearing, the Philipstown Town Board in mid-November enacted a new dog control law, effective Jan. 1, detailing rules for licensing and pet owners’ rights and responsibilities. But while the new law passed the board unanimously with no dissent from the public, one audience member suggested cats also deserve attention.
Forced to act because the State of New York decided to relinquish dog-control duties to local jurisdictions, the Town Board is replacing the current four pages on dogs in the town code of law with a new, 20-page section. The new law will require owners to pay a fee and license all dogs 6 months of age old or older, with the exception of dogs in shelters or similar situation, and to present proof the dog has been vaccinated against rabies. At all times, each licensed dog also will have to wear an identification tag issued by the town; those found running loose off the owner’s property can be seized and held, to be reclaimed at a charge. For most residents, cost of a license will be $12.50 for a spayed or neutered dog and $25 for an un-spayed, non-neutered dog. Senior citizens will pay $3.50 per license for a spayed or neutered dog and $10.50 for an un-spayed, non-neutered. Licensing will be handled by the town clerk’s office. Residents who violate the new provisions can be fined up to $250. “The law is a little voluminous, but we have to cover ourselves because the state no longer is dealing with any of this,” Town Clerk Tina Merando explained at the meeting, Nov. 18.
“Now the town will be handling the whole show,” Supervisor Richard Shea added. “It puts more responsibility on us. But it may be a source of revenue. It’s important to have the dog licensed because that proves to us the dog has the shots and we don’t have dogs running around town with rabies and things like that. It’s a safety concern.” Shea also pointed out that the license costs “about 10 percent of what the fine will be if you don’t have the license. So it’ll be a good incentive to license your dog.”
Cold Spring resident Sue Peehl suggested equal time for felines. “I think somebody should take a look at the cat situation,” she said. “They just go from fence to fence. They hop over everybody’s back yard, and they could carry rabies.” In particular, she cited concerns about cats and Constitution Marsh. “The reason it would be appropriate to have some sort of a cat thing here is because that’s an Audubon marsh and they do have kind of guidelines that cats – stray cats or loose cats ” shouldn’t be within a mile of the marsh.”She did not press the board for immediate action on a cat law. “I just wanted to bring that forward,” she said.
At the meeting, Merando also announced a town rabies-inoculation and micro-chipping clinic, scheduled for 2 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 4, at the VFW Hall on Kemble Avenue in Cold Spring. Costs are $15 for the rabies shot and $31.99 for optional micro-chipping. Of the micro-chipping fee, $16.99 for registration of the micro-chip data must be paid by credit card.