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Monday, 23 October 2017

Letter to Editor: Brunswick Animal Control
Written by MFOA   
Friday, 25 April 2014

 

4/4/14

Animal control AND protection

To the Editor:

The Town of Brunswick has adopted an animal control policy that I believe is both a threat to public safety and a potential violation of state animal welfare law.

 

Under Maine law, municipalities must have an animal control program to “control” dogs running at large. The reason is simple: stray/at-large dogs can post a risk to adults and children, other pets, farm animals, and to themselves. These dogs may cause car accidents, be involved in bite incidents, or pose disease risks such as rabies and parasites. Also, to allow a dog to run loose, lost and frightened, is in my view, inhumane and dangerous for the dog.


Many Maine towns have an Animal Control Officer (ACO) who is assisted by a secondary ACO who works on an on call/per diem basis. These towns thus have 24/7 coverage and will respond to stray dog reports at all hours of the day and night.


Brunswick has chosen a different approach. Stray dogs will be rescued routinely only when Brunswick’s one Animal Control Officer is on duty, which is 7:30-3:30 weekdays. Reports of stray animals received at other times - which is most hours of the day and night – must constitute an “emergency” in order to animal control to be dispatched and for the stray dog to receive help.


But Brunswick’s definition of “emergency” seems vague and open to differing interpretations by different dispatchers. A police department official told me that an emergency could consist of a dog blocking traffic or obviously injured. I asked if an emergency included, for example, rescuing a stray dog in subzero, stormy weather, which has defined most of this winter. He replied that it would depend upon the length of the dog’s coat. Don’t we urge that animals be brought inside in freezing weather regardless of the length of their coat? Some callers reporting strays during the ACO’s off hours have been told to simply let the dog run.


The lack of a policy that covers all at-large dogs, 24/7, leaves at risk the town’s residents and dogs that need rescue. We are surrounded by town that have more effective, humane policies, in spite of the budget constraints that all towns face. Bath, Topsham, and Harpswell, for example, have a full-time animal response so that both animals and humans receive the protection they deserve. The Town of Brunswick should follow suit.



Gary Aldridge

Brunswick, ME

 
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