Law Establishes Animal Abuse Registry, County Department for Animal Cruelty Issues
FONDA - Earlier this month, the Montgomery County Legislature passed a local law to strengthen animal welfare investigation and cruelty prevention laws in Montgomery County. Before the law is acted upon by Montgomery County Executive Matthew L. Ossenfort, a public hearing has been scheduled for the Legislative Chambers, at 64 Broadway, in Fonda, on Wednesday, Dec. 17, at 7 p.m. Animal Cruelty Law (PDF).
"It is important to hear public input, with such a comprehensive and significant piece of legislation on the table," Ossenfmi said. "I want to make sure we give the public every opportunity for feedback."
In March, Ossenfort issued his first Executive Order, which created the Montgomery County Animal Welfare Investigation & Cruelty Prevention Commission. That decision came in the wake of a handful of incidents, most notably one that drew much attention in the town of Sprakers, in January. That commission is chaired by Legislator Martin P. Kelly (District I) and has met regularly, helping to create and craft this law.
"In January, Montgomery County was thrust into the spotlight for the wrong reason," Kelly said. "By passing this law, we will be able to reduce and hopefully eliminate these occurrences. This is important to have, but the cost shouldn't fall solely on the backs of the taxpayers."
This department would consist of two part-time employees, including one expert, who will be required to continue their education with courses set by the state department of Ag & Markets. That person will be the point person for all animal cruelty issues in the county.
In addition to dealing with and resolving cruelty issues, this law would set up an Animal Abuse Registry, maintained by the Sheriffs Office, which would not allow offenders to possess, adopt, own or purchase for a period of 10 years. The law would also require a potential breeder or seller to fill out an application and undergo an annual inspection.
This presents a shared service opportunity to consolidate, while providing improved services and enforcement at the county level. An initial investment from the county is needed, but the department is intended to be self-sustainable. The county plans to offer an opt-in option to the local municipalities and will be a piece of Montgomery County's Government Efficiency Plan, which is due to the state in June.