Cost of dog stays doesn’t sit well here

COPAKE—Town Supervisor Jeff Nayer thinks his town spends too much money on services for out-of-town dogs abandoned in Copake.

At the February 8 Copake Town Board meeting, Mr. Nayer said he wants the town to contract with another, cheaper place in addition to the Columbia-Greene Humane Society/SPCA, where stray dogs can be taken when found in the town.

Mr. Nayer said four dogs that were never claimed by their owners were picked up in Copake by Town Animal Control Officer Wes Powell last year and taken to the humane society, which is the town’s official dog shelter in such situations. Each dog cost the town $650 for a total of $2,600.

The town’s contract with the humane society says that $35/day will be charged per dog for the first 10 days the dog is housed at the shelter. “This will cover holding the dog for the entire course of its five-day redemption period mandated by the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets Law, as well as an additional five days to permit the owner to redeem their dog before it is eligible for adoption… On the 11th day of housing, it will be assumed that the dog will not be redeemed by an owner, and it will become the responsibility of the CGHS/SPCA. A flat charge of $300 will then be added to cover any and all services beyond the first 10 days until the point of disposition.”

So the town has to pay $350 for the first 10 days and another $300 if the dog is still there on the 11th day–a total of $650/dog.

Mr. Nayer said the Pine Plains Veterinary Hospital, which also serves as a dog shelter, only charges $22/day for the first 10 days for a total of $220 and then the dog is put up for adoption. The supervisor said he and Mr. Powell went to the Pine Plains facility and found it to be a good option. He said they do not euthanize the dogs brought there unless they are sick or deemed to be too aggressive to be adopted.

The CGHS/SPCA also does not euthanize animals brought there.

Because of the distance to Pine Plains from Mr. Powell’s home in New Lebanon and because he might have to make multiple trips, Mr. Nayer said he wants to raise Mr. Powell’s annual salary by $250 to $3,850. He said even with that increase, $250 combined with the Pine Plains fee of $220, the town will still be saving money at $470 versus $650 on the first dog and $220 versus $650 thereafter.

Mr. Nayer said he was told by Mr. Powell that the number of abandoned dogs, those that are intentionally cast aside never to be reclaimed, is higher in Copake and other towns along “the Route 22 corridor” because many of the animals are brought over from Massachusetts and dumped. Another such corridor, is the Taconic State Parkway, where dogs from elsewhere are left.

Mr. Powell could not be reached for further comment on the matter before press deadline.

Unrelated to the “corridor” issue, Mr. Nayer recollected an instance when a dog owner died in his recreational vehicle at a local campground. His dog was with him in the camper for four days before they were found. Because the man had no next of kin to immediately care for the dog, it was taken to the humane society, and the town incurred the $650 worth of charges. Sometime later, when a close friend of the deceased man came forward to adopt the dog, Mr. Nayer said he was able to get the humane society to split the charges between that person and the town. Mr. Nayer contended that the dog was not technically abandoned and the town should not have been responsible for the charges.

CGHS/SPCA President Ron Perez said other towns have also opted to house their stray dogs in less expensive facilities and that is their prerogative.

Mr. Perez said if his dog got away and was lost, he would want to know that when it was found it would be housed in the “safest possible place” until he could claim it.

He said the rates charged by the humane society are financially necessary, noting that the average stay of a stray is six months. The cost covers spay or neutering, health tests and shots among other things.

The Town Board agreed to also contract with the Pine Plains Veterinary Hospital for dog shelter services.

At its next meeting, March 8 at 6:50 p.m., the board will conduct a public hearing on a local law establishing consistency between town law and Agriculture and Markets Law governing the control, licensing, seizure, impoundment and redemption of dogs.

To contact Diane Valden email

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