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Philadelphia mayor asks Jefferson County to expand dog control services

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WATERTOWN — Appearing before the Jefferson County Board of Legislators on Tuesday, Philadelphia Mayor Matthew J. Montroy asked legislators to consider expanding the services of the county dog control office to the village, which got rid of its own part-time dog control officer this year because of budget constraints. The officer was earning $5,000 a year, Mr. Montroy said.

According to a 1982 agreement, the county dog control office provides dog control officer services and pound or shelter services to the towns in Jefferson County but not the villages.

Mr. Montroy is asking the county to revisit that agreement as a way to consolidate services during a time when municipalities are struggling to make ends meet. As a principle justification for the measure, Mr. Montroy cited the taxes those who live in the village pay as town and county residents.

“Because it’s in the town budget, our village taxpayers are paying for it, because our village taxpayers pay a town tax,” Mr. Montroy said Wednesday. “It’s my argument that our village taxpayers are already paying for the service because they’re paying for it with their town taxes. Plus, part of our village taxpayers’ county taxes go toward dog control too; therefore, we’ve already been paying for it; we should be allowed that service.”

Legislator Allen T. Drake, D-Theresa, represents the village of Philadelphia.

He said it’s unlikely the county will take over the responsibility from the village; at issue are the same fiscal concerns that led the village to discontinue its own dog control services.

“Everything boils down to money,” Mr. Drake said. “If we get into that, we’ll have to hire extra people, and we don’t have the money.”

But Mr. Montroy is still optimistic a deal might be worked out. “Last night was the first time I really addressed the board,” he said Wednesday. “I actually had a couple of board members call me and talk to me prior to the meeting, so I know there’s some thought going into this so I know it didn’t just fall on deaf ears.”

County Attorney David J. Paulsen said that the long-standing agreement between the county and its constituent towns and villages spells out what the dog control office is and is not required to do.

The county is not required to respond to calls related to a provision of the state Agriculture and Markets law commonly known as the “leash law.”

Essentially, dog control officers are not required to respond to calls in villages or other municipalities that are determined to be “nuisance” calls, according to Mr. Paulsen.

“That’s been an arrangement all these years,” Mr. Paulsen said. “County dog control doesn’t have jurisdiction because that’s a nuisance. This is really supposed to be a local village or town issue.”

Serious calls involving rabid dogs or other matters of public safety will be handled by the dog control office, but other calls are considered to be a waste of resources, according to Mr. Paulsen.

Mr. Montroy said he is not asking for enforcement of the leash law.

“I’m not asking for that,” Mr. Montroy said. “I’m asking for them to give the village of Philadelphia the same service the town of Philadelphia is getting, and basically that is: if there’s a stray dog roaming around, come pick it up for us.”

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