Karen Jackson is the dog control officer for the Town of Philipstown. 

Karen JacksonHow did you become the town’s dog control officer?
I applied 25 years ago, but my neighbor, Bob Ferris, who was a Putnam County sheriff’s deputy, got the job. He did it for more than 20 years. After he retired to Florida in 2020, I applied again and was hired. Between phone calls, driving places and talking to people about where their dog might be, it requires about 20 hours a month.

Do you deal with dangerous situations?
Yes. In July, after we had the flooding, someone called about a stray in their backyard by Lake Celeste in Garrison. It was a little mutt with no collar. I spent two hours in the rain trying to catch her. I couldn’t get her to come to me, and I couldn’t catch her with the noose on a pole. I attempted to snag her as she tried to get out through the gate, and she bit me on the leg, breaking the skin. I spent five hours in the emergency room, got five shots for rabies and tetanus and went back three more times for the rabies series. No one ever saw the dog again. 

Does Philipstown have an unusually large number of dogs?
A lot of local people have dogs, and a lot of tourists bring their dogs. In both cases, some think they can walk into a restaurant with their dog — so another customer who might be afraid or allergic has to sit near a dog — or leave it outside. I don’t think it’s the best thing to do. 

What’s the most common mistake dog owners make?
Letting their dogs get away with whatever they want, like they’re entitled, like some parents with their children. I love dogs, have always had dogs and walk dogs. But letting your dog go wherever it wants, under no control, is not good for the dog. A lot of owners think their dogs should be allowed to go up to other dogs, but not all dogs are friendly, especially on a leash. It makes them aggressive 75 percent of the time, or more. People assume because their dog is nice at home, it will be nice when they’re out walking. I walk one dog that snaps and growls if a big dog comes nearby. Yet at my house with my dogs and other dogs, it’s fine. It’s a leash thing, and it happens a lot. You have to work at training, but it’s easy enough to do if you’re going to walk your dog.

Do you have enforcement powers?
I enforce all local laws. All dogs must be licensed through the town, which includes having all their shots. The law requires you to keep your dog on a leash everywhere except on your property. You can’t let your dog loose in the Nelsonville Woods or at Dockside or Foundry Park. The most common complaint I get is that dogs are off-leash. And barking. Neighbors don’t want to listen to barking. It’s an offense if a dog barks for five continuous minutes between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. During the day, it’s an offense if it’s more than 10 minutes. I can’t bring people to court unless I witness the offense. Whoever sees it has to do the paperwork, go to court and explain to the judge what happened. In four years, I’ve only arranged a court date for one person, and they ended up saying, “Never mind.” People don’t want to take anyone to court.

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Turton, who has been a reporter for The Current since its founding in 2010, moved to Philipstown from his native Ontario in 1998. Location: Cold Spring. Languages: English. Area of expertise: Cold Spring government, features

Leave a comment

The Current welcomes comments on its coverage and local issues. All online comments are moderated, must include your full name and may appear in print. See our guidelines here.