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Animal abuse: County looking at tougher laws

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 - Updated: 10:18 PM

By HEATHER NELLIS

For the C-S-E

FONDA -- With animal welfare interests heightened by a controversial dog kennel case ongoing in Sprakers, Montgomery County officials are advocating for a related state bill, and creation of a local investigations committee.

Montgomery County Legislature Chairman Thomas Quackenbush and County Executive Matthew Ossenfort last week agreed to send a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo urging him to sign a puppy mill bill on his desk.

According to the state Senate's website, the bill was approved by both houses and delivered to the governor Dec. 30. Its purpose is to allow municipalities to regulate pet dealers as long as the law, rule, regulation or ordinance is not less stringent than state law, its memo says.

"It gives the locals more leeway to enact tougher laws, which is why this legislation is so important," Ossenfort said.

District 7 Legislator Barbara Wheeler suggested the letter to Cuomo, noting she received multiple calls from residents concerned about the Flat Creek Border Collies facility in Sprakers.

Wheeler has also been promoting an online petition encouraging Cuomo's action on the bill, which can be accessed on her Facebook page.

District 1 Legislator Martin Kelly then suggested the creation of an animal welfare investigation and cruelty prevention committee. He said it can be a body of people consisting of the county's animal welfare groups, a large-animal veterinarian, a small-animal veterinarian, and members of the community who have an interest.

"It's so that we have something in place that can head off issues such as the one we've all been getting phone calls about," Kelly said, referring to the Sprakers kennel.

Kelly said committee representatives should also include those who are in the animal production industry.

"It's not just dogs that are abused; there are equines and other animals, and I think all animals fall into it. And, in Montgomery County, agriculture plays a major role in our economy," Kelly said.

District 9 Legislator Alex Kuchis supports the idea. He said the committee should look at existing related laws in the county and create a definition of animal cruelty.

Ossenfort, who would be charged with appointing such a committee, said he's ready and willing to work with Kelly on the subject.

District 4 Legislator Ryan Weitz said creating such a committee would "strengthen Legislator Wheeler's point in sending a message to the Capitol that this bill needs to be passed, because it does exactly that -- it allows local governments to pass more stringent health and safety regulations for the treatment of animals."

     

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