It’ll be a shorter pit stop on the road to possible new homes for dogs that end up in Cheektowaga’s kennel.
The Town Board has changed the dog ordinance to reduce the impound period from five business days to three before dogs are offered for adoption. The change also eliminates impound fees and charges for the first two times a licensed dog lands “behind bars” within a year.
“This really is a win-win situation for both the taxpayers and the animals,” Animal Control Officer Scott Thrun told lawmakers during a public hearing on the changes.
Especially for the dogs.
“It saves two days,” Thrun said in a later interview with The Buffalo News. “We can get the animals through our shelter quicker.”
And, for a majority of them, that’s their ticket to a new life.
Out of 108 dogs seized last year, just 28 – roughly 25 percent – were reclaimed by their owners.
“If we don’t hear from anyone in the first 12 to 24 hours, we know that dog’s not going home,” he said.
Dogs that are seized rarely have a collar or microchip that identifies their owners.
“Most don’t have anything,” Thrun said. “This is the reason we are always enforcing … license your dog. It’s like a get-out-of-jail-free card for your dog.”
Under the new impoundment fee structure, there’s no charge for a dog owner to retrieve a licensed pet during its first or second impoundments in a year. When it comes to strike three, however, there’s a $30 fee, plus a $10 charge for each additional day the dog spends at the kennel.
The costs for reclaiming an unlicensed dog begin with a $10 impoundment fee.
An owner must obtain a license from the Town Clerk’s Office; the cost is $13.50 for a dog that’s neutered and $20.50 for one that isn’t. But first, the owner must provide proof that the dog has been vaccinated against rabies or pay the town for having a veterinarian do the job.
In recent years, all dogs were subjected to an impound fee, plus the $10 daily charge – licensed or not. The impound fee was $25 for the first offense, $50 for the second and $100 for the third.
The town set those old rates in 2010, after New York State shifted dog-licensing responsibilities to municipalities.
“We agreed that it was way more than it should be,” Thrun said.
If a dog goes unclaimed at the Cheektowaga kennel, it’s offered for adoption there or transferred to the SPCA Serving Erie County.
“We’re not an adoption agency, per se,” Thrun said. But if someone is interested in a dog they see at the kennel, they may begin the adoption process. Fourteen adoptions took place directly from Cheektowaga’s kennel in 2012, Thrun said.
“We don’t get the foot traffic like the SPCA,” he continued. “I like using them because every dog is examined for behavioral issues ... before the dog is put up for adoption.”
Thrun has observed a troubling trend lately of people leaving their pets behind when they move to a new residence.
“We get a lot of dogs that are really nice dogs,” he said.