By Neal Rentz
The Putnam County Legislature approved an animal cruelty registry recently that will contain names of those who abuse animals.
Now the legislators are being asked to create a Dangerous Dog Registry.
Putnam County SPCA Chief Kenneth Ross discussed his organization’s proposal for a dangerous dog registry at the May 10 legislative Rules, Enactments and Intergovernmental Relations Committee meeting. Westchester County and the State of Virginia already have Dangerous Dog Registries, he said.
Ross told the legislators there were currently no names on the animal cruelty register. The Putnam website has “links to all the other registries in New York State,” he noted.
Ross said a registry about and restrictions on dangerous dogs were needed to protect the public.
He added, “First responders are at risk” when they report to a home during an emergency and a dangerous dog is loose. Dangerous dogs also pose harm to neighboring residents if the animals are not safely restrained, Ross said.
A municipal court would determine if a dog was dangerous and should be placed on the proposed registry, Ross said.
The registry would include a website with such information including where the dog’s owner lives and the age and breed of the animal, Ross said. The SPCA does not know how many dangerous dogs are in the county, he told the committee.
The SPCA is proposing that owners of dangerous dogs have an 8-foot high fence on their properties so the dogs could not get loose, Ross said. The plan also calls for the posting of one-foot-by-one-foot “Beware of Dog” signs placed on the property where a dangerous dog resides, he said.
Under the SPCA proposal dangerous dogs would not be allowed within 500 feet of a variety of facilities including schools, assisted living sites and hospitals, Ross said. Owners of dangerous dogs would need to have $100,000 liability insurance policies, he said.
Putnam County Legislature Chairwoman Ginny Nacerino said there are municipalities in the county that restrict fences to no higher than six feet. To be higher a property owner would need a waiver from the local zoning board of appeals for a fence, she said. Ross said he would consider changing the required fence height to six feet high.
Nacerino said she understood that steps should be taken in regard to the threat of dangerous dogs.
“This is not the poodle next door,” she said. “We’re trying to protect the public.”
Committee Chairman Neal Sullivan said he wanted discussion on the registry proposal to continue in the future with the participation of County Attorney Jennifer Bumgarner and the SPCA.