By JEFF MEYERS
---- — PERU — Elmore SPCA wanted dangerous-dog language removed from its contract to provide services to the Town of Peru.
James Douglass, the town councilor who acts as liaison with the animal shelter, brought the request to his colleagues during a recent Town Council meeting.
Elmore staff expressed concern that the facility is not equipped to handle dangerous dogs and suggested the town use the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department for calls on such canines, he said.
Peru Town Supervisor Peter Glushko said the only people who can legally determine that a dog is dangerous and must be removed from the community is a town judge or dog-control officer.
“Still, we have to do something with that dog when it’s picked up,” he said, noting that the legal process to put down a dangerous canine can take up to five days.
“Somebody has to care for that dog for those five days. We have specially designed kennels for this. They (staff at Elmore) are supposed to be trained for this.”
Carol Solari-Ruscoe, who sits on the SPCA Board of Directors, told the Press-Republican that Elmore did not mean to say the facility would not handle dangerous dogs, but language in the state Agriculture and Markets Law covers the requirement above and beyond the contract with Peru.
“Our request was not done to reduce any level of services we provide,” she said. “We totally understand that if we have a dangerous dog, it has to be put somewhere.”
Solari-Ruscoe met with Glushko and Douglass recently to discuss the issue and clarify the shelter’s stance.
“It was a very cordial meeting,” she said. “They understood where we were coming from, and we agreed reinstate the clause back into the contract.”
NOT A COMMON CALL
However, before that happened councilors were concerned about changing the contract without a clear idea of how dangerous dogs were to be handled. The town was prepared to study the issue, finding out how the City of Plattsburgh deals with vicious-dog calls, and discussed reducing the financial support the town provides Elmore, so the town could find an alternative to handling those calls.
Glushko said there have been very few dangerous-dog calls over the last several years. Collectively, the councilors could only recall a couple of cases, and the dog in at least one case turned out to be friendly and playful.
Solari-Ruscoe agreed, noting that the community is very fortunate not to have a dangerous-dog problem.
WILL CLARIFY ROLE
The council will reconsider adopting Elmore’s contract with the inclusion of the dangerous-dog clause at its next meeting.
Meanwhile, Elmore representatives will meet in the near future with Ag and Market officials to discuss the state laws and clarify their role in providing such services as controlling dangerous dogs.
Elmore SPCA reopened last year after extensive renovations to its Telegraph Road facility and now offers expanded facilities and a no-kill environment for stray animals and also newborn puppies and kittens.
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