Port Henry Gerbils. The burrowing, mouse-like rodent, was the last straw for Tom Scozzafava.
The Moriah supervisor wants to scrap the town’s existing dog ordinance and replace it with an animal control law. He expects town board action on the proposal in 2014.
“You wouldn’t believe the problems we have with animals,” Scozzafava said. “We just got called to remove 100 gerbils that were abandoned in a house. It’s unbelievable.”
An animal control law will help the town better deal with animals issues. The present dog ordinance only addresses canines.
“It used to be dogs and cats,” the supervisor said. “Now people own all kinds of pets. And there’s farm animals, too. There have been issues with horses. We need a law that addresses all these animals and issues.”
Animal issues have increased of late, according to New York State Police Zone Commander John Tibbits. He believes the growing number of abuse complaints are the result of two high profile cases in the North Country — 24 puppies being abandoned by the owners of Northern Puppies in Plattsburgh and 41 malnourished horses being seized from a farm in Essex.
Moriah receives “hundreds” of calls each year alleging animal abuse, Scozzafava said.
“The majority of pet owners are responsible, caring people,” Scozzafava said. “But there are others who don’t care for their animals they way they should. We’ve been getting a lot of calls.”
So many calls the town has set up a temporary dog shelter at its water treatment plant. Animals picked up the town dog officer — which would become an animal control officer when a new law is adopted — can be kept at the shelter for three days before being taken to the Westport SPCA shelter.
Cases involving animals other than dogs are referred to the county sheriff’s department. That would change with a new animal control law.