LISBON - While picking up stray dogs may be done with the best intentions, a local dog control officer said it often hurts more than helps.
Susan Siedlecki has 14 years experience as a dog control officer and currently serves the towns of Lisbon, Stockholm, Hermon and Lawrence.
She said picking up a stray animal is dangerous and should be done only by a dog or animal control officer. She said capturing stray dogs can hinder an owner's attempt to locate the animal.
"When people pick up stray dogs they are putting themselves and their pets at risk," she said. "These animals could have diseases that they can pass onto other animals or they can become dangerous. It can also prevent the owners from locating their pet. The owner may be five minutes behind someone who has found their dog, but at that point they have no way to locate it."
She said such instances seem to be on the rise throughout the North Country. Ms. Siedlecki said anyone who finds a stray dog should contact the animal control officer immediately. She said it's often the first place families call when trying to locate pets and officers are trained and have equipment to properly handle an animal.
Ms. Siedlecki said those who do harbor an animal for more than a day are taking on responsibility for caring for the animal.
"If someone picks up stray dog and feeds it for two or three days the dog becomes their problem. If they are harboring a dog, they take on responsibility of caring for it. After week it's up to them to take it to shelter. The towns aren't going to pay for animals to be picked up from homes that are taking care of them," she said.
Ms. Siedlecki said dog owners should make sure their dogs are licensed and wearing the appropriate identification at all times.
"Ag and Markets law requires that the license is on a dog at all times. People can be ticketed if identification is not on the dog. Sometimes tags can get lost. One thing I found is helpful is if people take embroidery paint and put their name and phone number on the collar so they can be easily contacted."
She also pointed out that nearly every town, if not all towns in St. Lawrence County, have a leash law which prevents dogs from straying from the owners.
"The dog has to be under your control at all times," she said. "It can't be running off your property. It doesn't necessarily have to be on a leash but it must be under your control."
All puppies must be given rabies shots and licensed with the town by the time they are four moths old. Licenses can be obtained at the town clerk's office.