More details added to town’s dangerous dog ordinance

By STEVEN COOK
Gazette Reporter

NISKAYUNA — The Niskayuna Town Board has updated the town’s procedures for dealing with dangerous dogs so that they are more in line with the regulations in surrounding municipalities and the state.

The new regulations outline in greater detail how town justices can deal with dogs that have threatened or injured people and animals, town officials said.

It also outlines the specific criteria that could result in a dangerous dog being ordered to be euthanized.

The update of town code was prompted by a high-profile attack over the summer near the Schenectady-Niskayuna line on a dog owned by a Niskayuna resident, officials said.

That case was handled in Schenectady City Court, but by a Niskayuna justice. Two dogs attacked and killed Templeton, a dog owned by Rebecca Cigal.

Both attacking dogs were ultimately ordered euthanized.

Deputy Town Attorney Matt Miller said that case started the discussion of Niskayuna’s dog ordinances.

“It’s exceedingly rare in Niskayuna,” he said. “We just don’t see it that often. … Since this was on the border and this did happen to a resident, that really kind of opened our eyes a little bit.”

So, Miller set about updating the ordinances. He reviewed neighboring ordinances, as well as state Agriculture and Markets Law.

The result was an ordinance that lays out the procedures and includes steps that can be taken to help prevent dangerous dogs from attacking.

A dog deemed dangerous will be ordered microchipped and spayed or neutered.

The town justice will also have a list of options for reducing the threat posed by the dog. Those include evaluation by a behaviorist, confinement and requirement for at least $100,000 in insurance. The judge can also require that the dog be handled only by someone age 21 or older, or require that the dog be muzzled when out in public places.

Euthanasia can be considered, but only in three circumstances: if the dog without provocation attacks and injures or kills a person; if the dog has a previous unjustified attack on a person causing physical injury or death; or if the dog has been previously determined to be dangerous and then injures or kills someone’s pet.

The statute also provides for an appeal process.

Also outlined are instances for when a dog should not be declared dangerous, including multiple definitions of justification.

About the Author

Rebecca Isenhart
Rebecca Isenhart is the reporter/writer for Your Niskayuna, presented by the Daily Gazette of Schenectady.