In the wake of growing controversy over the unsustainable financial situation at Hi-Tor Animal Shelter in Pomona, Rockland Legislators Ed Day and Alden H. Wolfe have initiated a discussion item requesting a committee review of the matter of animal control and care in Rockland County.
“Government has a responsibility to ensure that there is an effective animal control and care function in place that both protects our citizens and is humane to those animals in need. Reported budgetary constraints and disagreements between different levels of government is compromising that expectation, and with it, the safety of our residents,” said Legislator Day, adding that, “We really need to focus on the larger picture here.”
The ultimate responsibility for animal control has, of late, become a contentious issue between town, village and county governments. While town and village municipalities are required to provide only dog control, the county by virtue of legislation passed in 2002, imposed greater responsibility for all domestic animals that become homeless, as well as higher standards of care for those animals.
Rockland County has been decreasing funding to Hi-Tor by nearly 50 percent over the past four years, while municipalities’ contributions remain essentially flat. Compounding the problem is the fact that the Hi-Tor Animal Shelter, which serves as the sole animal shelter in Rockland, is housed in a county owned building that has fallen into significant disrepair, prompting former legislator Gerold Bierker to once describe the county as a “slumlord.”
“Essentially, this important public safety function has been caught in the middle of these disagreements, and it is increasingly clear to me that we are in real danger of losing the only animal shelter we have here in Rockland,” said Legislator Day, adding “That is unacceptable, as Rockland residents have an expectation that stray animals will picked up and have safe haven until they are reclaimed; be protected from free-roaming animals; as well as to have the ability to adopt a homeless animal.”
Legislator Day is looking to the committee forum to assist in better quantifying and affixing responsibilities for animal control and care; provide consistency in the funding of the function; ensure that the shelter itself meets satisfactory standards for employees and animals; and gain input and ideas from residents, advocates, and officials who are knowledgeable about the dynamics involved.
“Lack of action is no longer an option, and the discussion towards a solution has to start somewhere. It is my goal to identify those solutions, build a consensus to implement same, and do the right thing for both our citizens and the animals that look to us for humane care. In the final analysis, we are responsible to reflect the will of the people, and we are measured by how we treat those animals who cannot care for themselves,” concluded Legislator Day.
Legislator Wolfe looks to gather information and clarify respective responsibilities, which would ultimately serve to improve and stabilize the delivery of animal control services in Rockland County. “The animal control agencies that have operated within Rockland over the years have always gone above and beyond to provide needed care for stray or lost animals,” said Wolfe. “With this in mind, it’s important that we have an accurate picture of our responsibilities under county and state law. My goal is to seek ways to ensure the long term viability of centralized animal control services in our county.”
The date and time of the committee discussion is yet to be determined, and will be announced over the next few weeks. To obtain further information on legislature committee agendas, please visit www.rocklandgov.com , click on County Legislature and follow link to Committee Agendas. As is always the case, the public is encouraged and welcome to attend all legislature committee meetings.