Town leaders in Lancaster are in a quandary over whether to improve the town’s badly rundown dog kennels on Walden Avenue, to try to sell the property and build a town kennel at the former police headquarters – or to consider the Town of Clarence’s offer to house Lancaster’s stray dogs at its kennel.
The indecision comes in the midst of the Town Board’s recent restructuring of dog control staff to maintain 24-hour coverage and save about $100,000 in yearly operating expenses. Since the January death of full-time Dog Control Officer David R. Horn, the town has decided to revamp its dog-catching operations with a keen eye toward saving money, improving bookkeeping and generating more revenue from redemption fees from dog owners who reclaim their loose pooches caught by the town.
“Whatever provides the best service at the best cost to taxpayers, is what we’ll go with,” Supervisor Dino J. Fudoli said Thursday.
Because of the town’s restructured staffing model for dog control, there is no full-time staffer looking after the kennel operation.
In that sense, Fudoli said, it might make sense to have Lancaster’s stray dogs taken to the Town of Clarence kennel.
Still, Fudoli hasn’t had a complete change of heart on Clarence’s recent offer to share dog control services with Lancaster and have Lancaster use its kennel. “I’m not ruling out Clarence, but I don’t see that much cost-savings to jump on it right now,” Fudoli said. “We’re still a no-kill facility, and we’re willing to work with anyone to have a good home for these dogs.”
One variable that could tip a decision is whether the town is able to sell the chunk of land that its kennel sits on along Walden Avenue. Years ago, town officials said the Erie County Sewer Authority was potentially interested in purchasing that land, but it’s unknown if the authority remains interested.
Town officials this week also said they may even consider rebuilding and improving long overdue upgrades to the Lancaster kennel or make a new one at the town’s Pavement Road complex at the site of the old police headquarters.
Some residents, however, said putting a kennel at the Pavement Road site could be less than ideal, given the proximity of a nearby shooting range and noise from light industry.
Fudoli said, “We’re not in the business of kenneling dogs,” noting that after the required five-day limit to hold dogs, they will be put up for adoption or remanded to the SPCA or an animal rescue organization.
Meanwhile, some residents remain concerned about deteriorating conditions at the town’s Walden Avenue kennel and wages pared for a six-member part-time dog catching crew that some people think has gone too far.
Fudoli said the part-timer dog catchers’ new pay of $50 for a 24-hour on-call stretch is more in line with what it should be.
“We thought the previous pay structure was too lucrative,” he said, noting that some dog control staff were making $150 per day “for just being on call and not working. … We thought it was a bit steep for taxpayers.”