Dog licensing left to local government

NORTH EAST — Soon the task of licensing dogs will change from state hands to those of local municipalities. The town of North East will hold a public hearing on the local law giving it such powers Thursday, Dec. 9, at 8 p.m. at Town Hall.

“New York state has taken a different approach on how dogs will be licensed within the state,â€� said town Supervisor Dave Sherman. “They will still require dogs to be licensed and fees collected for providing for animal population control, and it will be left to the state to define how those monies will  be used, but it puts upon the municipalities the requirement to handle licenses and tags, registration numbers and any database maintained for records.â€�

Attorney to the Town Warren Replansky drafted Local Law No. 4 of 2010, also known as the Dog Control and Licensing Law for the Town of North East, which will be the subject of tonight’s public hearing. According to Section One of the law, its purpose is: “to provide for the licensing and identification of dogs, the control and protection of the dog population and the protection of persons, property, domestic animals and deer from dog attack and damage.�

The law will be enacted pursuant to the provisions of the Agriculture and Markets Law and the Municipal Home Rule Law of the state of New York.

“Currently the town clerk’s office will continue to issue licenses that come through the state system through the end of this year,� Sherman said. “Effective Jan. 1, all new licenses will be issued by the town, and renewals will be notified by the town clerk’s office [that they must be done by the town] and get a town tag, versus one prepared by the state.�

Because of the requisite software needed to process all of the licenses and manage all of the related information, the supervisor said the changeover will put an “extra burden� on local municipalities.

“The unfortunate part is the state, which did maintain a statewide database, said it will not do so, and the software various clerks will be using to track records has to be updated, and there are special costs because you do pay annual fees to keep that software up to date,� Sherman said. “The costs to combine [data] within the municipalities may become a problem. To have flexibility and access to the data the state had may require more expense.�

As a result, statewide information dog control officers once had access to (which was very handy as many dog control officers work for multiple municipalities) will no longer be so readily available. In fact, Sherman said more software will need to be purchased in some cases.

“It doesn’t appear to be more efficient or more effective than before,� he said. “Now it’s just pushed down to municipalities. The administrative effort and also associated costs for handling data at this level [are higher].

“I suspect somebody at the state level thought they would save money in the Department of Ag and Markets,� he added. “That may be the case at the state level, but it’s not going to be the case at the municipal level.�

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