Lancaster’s pooches may be counted the old-fashioned way soon – door to door.
Impromptu chatter among town officials Monday evening led to serious talk about launching a townwide dog enumeration in an attempt to get all the Fidos licensed that are not.
“Literally, we need teeth in this, and not dog teeth,” Town Clerk Johanna M. Coleman said during the Town Board’s work session. “We are barking at people and seem to be getting nowhere.”
For weeks, the town has issued formal reminders to the community, urging residents to license their dogs four months of age and older. To date, there are 4,997 dogs licensed in the Town of Lancaster, but town officials remain concerned that many more are unlicensed and perhaps unvaccinated, which could lead to a public health risk to all residents.
That scenario played out in two separate incidents recently. A dachshund bit someone’s leg on Burwell Avenue, and its vaccinations had expired, town officials said.
In another incident, Supervisor Dino J. Fudoli recounted how a Bull Maistiff, weighing more than 160 pounds, was tasered.
He said town police had two snares on the large dog and still could not control the animal. The town ended up getting “blasted” on Facebook for how it handled that incident, he said. But when it was revealed that the dog lacked its vaccinations, the Facebook statements were later retracted. “The police did what they had to do,” Fudoli said.
A townwide dog census – where dog-control officers go door to door to identify unlicensed dogs and give their owners a set number of days to license them before there could be repercussions – has not been done in several years.
“It’s turning into a public safety issue, when people are getting bit and there’s no rabies shot,” Coleman said. “It could be that half the dogs are unlicensed. It’s hard to know.”
The town’s restructured dog control operations will likely be taking on the licensing task. The town provides dog-control coverage that includes the villages of Lancaster and Depew.
“Let’s pay the staff more to get them more motivated and do an enumeration,” Councilman Mark S. Aquino said.
Fudoli said that either more hours or staff are needed and that he will check with staff to see where the money could be found in the budget. Town officials noted that licensing fees would end up reimbursing the town’s expense for the dog licensing effort.
Licensing fees are $13 for a spayed or neutered dog and $20 for an unspayed or unneutered dog older than 4 months. Senior citizens ages 65 or older are exempt from the local fee portion, bringing the cost to $5 for spayed or neutered dogs, or $12 for unspayed or unneutered dogs.