Animal control ruffles feathers in Forestport

FORESTPORT — Several town residents have spoken out against a proposed law that would place limits on the number of animals and pets people may own. Permits would be required.

About 60 residents attended a public hearing held at the Town Hall Tuesday to voice their opinions on the legislation. No one spoke in support.

"There weren’t too many people in favor," said Supervisor William A. Hasenauer.

The town board held a public hearing last August on the issue. Hasenauer ruled that feedback from that meeting be used to draft the proposed law, but action was tabled. A second public hearing was held last night.

The town board is expected to make its final decision in a vote held during its general meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 18, at the Town Hall.

The proposed law requires that residents apply for a permit to own more than three adult dogs or five adult cats. It also requires guidelines for acreage and shelter for farm animals, such as chickens, pigs, sheep and horses.

Hasenauer said the town board looked at Cornell Cooperative Extension’s guidelines for the harboring and care of backyard animals when drafting the proposed law, which are recommendations enforced throughout the state. Complaints from residents weren’t about loud, barking dogs or animals destroying property or wandering where they didn’t belong, the supervisor said.

"The most complaints we have is when people leave their dogs out for long periods of time during the summer or winter without adequate shelter," Hasenauer said. "People are concerned for the safety of the animals."

While some residents have complained that limitations should not be placed on them just because of a few irresponsible pet owners, Hasenauer said, "Like anything else, it only takes a few to create a problem." That is why the board decided to take action after it was petitioned, he said.

As for owning pets or farm animals, "No one is saying you can’t have them," Hasenauer said. "You just need adequate space and shelter for them."