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Board of Selectmen Meeting Minutes

Any and all corrections to the following minutes will be made at the 06/16/05 Board of Selectmen's meeting and are considered unapproved until then. Corrections will be noted in the minutes of that meeting.

JUNE 6th, 2005

Selectmen: Piet van Loon, Dan DeWalt, Patricia Halloran, and Gary Katz.
Absent: Priscilla Cotton
Also Present: Carolyn Katz, Dennis Wiswall, Carolyn Garland, Peg Tart, Justin Gatzkee, Byron Tart, David Clarkson, Diana Urbaska, Lauri Richardson, Barb Barber, John Feifel, Ellen Darrow, and Doris Knechtel as Administrative Assistant.

The Special Meeting was called to order by Chairman Piet van Loon at 7:06 p.m.

Chairman P. van Loon spoke to the purpose of the meeting coming from a request from G. & C. Katz to amend the Newfane Animal Control Ordinance to require that all dogs be on a leash when off of their property due to an incident that happened with their dog being bit by an unleashed dog.
Carolyn Katz spoke from a prepared statement about the incident that occurred when her leashed dog was involved in an unprovoked attack on a public road by an unleashed dog. Her dog received a : inch puncture wound on her chest that required two sutures to close. She requested that the Selectboard adopt a leash law that would require that no dog would be allowed to run at large in or on any public place unless securely restrained by a substantial leash not to exceed six feet in length and is in charge and control of a person competent to keep such dog under effective charge and control.
In the current Newfane Animal Control Ordinance does not require that a domestic pet be on a leash when off the owners property, but must be in the presence of a person and obedient to that person's commands and is not causing a danger or a nuisance.
Members of the public spoke of various incidents involving unleashed dogs that have occurred to them or someone they know.

  • being chased and growled at while walking or running along the road
  • horses in a pasture being harassed and/or chased by dogs
  • dogs running loose on the town forest trails should be leashed
  • child being bite by a dog that was restrained
  • dog with owners, but unleashed, growling with hair up at a property owner while gardening
  • unleashed dogs are a threat to public safety
Other members of the public had comments to make in favor of obedient dogs that are not on a leash when off of their property.
  • dogs that behave should not have to be punished by having to be on a leash.
  • trained hunting dogs should not be leashed
  • some breeds of dogs need to run
  • border collies are trained (unleashed) by command to patrol property
  • having a leash law will not correct the problem if the owner is irresponsible

There was some discussion about having a law that would require a dog to be on a leash at all times in the village areas but not in the 'country' areas.
Enforcement issues were also discussed. The Animal Control Officers are the Windham County Sheriff's Department and the Constable. There needs to be increased enforcement. It was mentioned that if there is a law that requires that a dog be on a leash when off of the owner's property, and there is not adequate enforcement now, how is the enactment of a leash law going to improve the enforcement situation?

P. van Loon will contact Deputy Sheriff D. Whittle about the number of instances that have been reported to the WCSD regarding animal infractions and the seriousness of each. The people that have been threatened by an aggressive animal or bitten by the same need to make sure that they file an affidavit with the proper authorities. Here say of an incident does not count. Owners need to be made more responsible for the actions of their animals.
Board members reviewed Article VII the Newfane Animal Nuisance Control Ordinance dealing with Enforcement and Penalties. Of particular concern was the Response to Violations by Animal Control Officer section. Motion was made by D. DeWalt and seconded by P. Halloran to delete both #1 and #2; 1. Issue a verbal warning to the owner; and 2. Issue a written warning to the owner.; and make #3 as #1 adding at the end "If the offense is aggressive behavior, it will be" (former #4) required that a domestic pet, or domestic animal be restrained by a leash while off the premises of its owner. #5 to become #2. and #6 to become #3.
Discussion: It was felt by one Board member that his would take away the ability of the enforcement officer to deal with the situation on a case by case situation. Some also felt that the fines (section C.) Should be at a higher amount. Vote: 2 in favor, one abstention. Motion fails.
Before a change is made in the ordinance, it was suggested that the Board may want to talk with both the Windham County Sheriff's Department and the Constable, Kevin Behan.

Motion was made by G. Katz and seconded by D. DeWalt to adjourn the special meeting at 9:45 p.m. Unanimous.

Doris A. Knechtel
Administrative Assistant
Newfane Board of Selectmen

Posted: Town Clerk's Office, Newfane Store, Williamsville General Store, and South Newfane General Store & Deli.

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Route 30, P.O. Box 36, Newfane VT 05345, Tel. (802) 365-7772

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