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How Does the County
Handle Its Strays?

By Jeanne Sager
SULLIVAN COUNTY — May 26, 2006 – A vast number of Sullivan strays are headed to Orange County.
Just three of the county’s 15 townships retain a contract with the Sullivan County SPCA in Rock Hill – and that includes the Town of Rockland which is negotiating a new contract, switching to the Town of Liberty’s kennels.
With the SPCA under fire of late and an ongoing investigation by the Sheriff’s Department, the organization has lost several contracts for kennel services.
The County Legislature has yet to renew its yearly contract with the shelter – although the Sheriff’s Department still calls on SPCA officials to take care of animal control.
The Town of Thompson made a change earlier this year, cutting off contact with the SPCA and sending strays up the road to Glen Wild Animal Rescue.
But decisions not to use the SPCA are nothing new.
The towns of Bethel, Liberty and Neversink maintain their own kennels on town property – and Bethel Supervisor Harold Russell said the towns often share services as needed.
Bethel is one of the few towns to offer animal control – the state’s ag and markets law differentiates between dog control and officers who can also pick up cats and other domesticated animals.
Wildlife – such as foxes or eagles – is the responsibility of the Department of Environmental Conservation.
But Russell said the town has named Henni Anker as an animal control officer.
“That entitles her to pick up a cow, a horse, a duck . . .” he said.
Liberty’s dog control officer doubles as a constable – Joanne Gerow just recently finished courses that will enable her to answer animal cruelty calls as well as the requests for help with a stray.
Gerow kennels strays at a town facility, but a number of other municipalities leave the care of the dogs up to the dog control officer who keeps cages on his or her own property.
Dogs running loose in the Town of Delaware are taken in by John Jackson at his home in Jeffersonville – they are kept there for a short period of time so owners can claim them.
In the next town over, Town of Callicoon Dog Control Officer Buddy Romney keeps strays on his property in Callicoon Center for a week during the summer.
During the winter, he said the strays are taken “wherever I can find room for them.”
If they aren’t claimed within 10 days, the dogs are put down.
Town of Fallsburg’s strays stay in a dog control officer’s facility for a week, but they’re kept alive even if they aren’t found by their family.
Nancy Marinchak keeps the strays in her six-kennel run in Mountaindale. If they aren’t claimed, she takes them to the Middletown Humane Society or Glen Wild Animal Rescue.
Marinchak also doubles as the Town of Thompson’s dog control officer – those strays go straight to Glen Wild, she said, with the Humane Society acting as a secondary shelter.
Since things have gotten hot at the SPCA, Marinchak said she’s seen an increase in the number of strays in her area – the area right around the shelter.
Dogs are being dumped, she said, like the pups she found just a few weeks ago out by Exit 107 just off the Quickway.
These days she heads to Fair Oaks at least twice a week, but she’s happy to say the dogs are getting adopted.
“I walk in there, and the place is so clean,” she said. “The people are pleasant there, and they know how to run a good shelter.”
That’s where dogs in the Town of Forestburgh go when Dog Control Officer Arnold Burger picks them up.
So do some of the strays from the Town of Cochecton.
Cochecton Dog Control Officer Mike Attianese keeps dogs on his property on Pinewood Road in Cochecton for a portion of the year.
But when the temperature drops, he has to transport the strays to Fair Oaks.
Three other county towns have opted to head out to Orange County for kennel services.
The Town of Highland’s strays are carted by Dog Control Officer Rose Paolini to the Deerpark Humane Society in Port Jervis.
Dog Control Officer Matthew Ippolito does the same with the strays in the Town of Mamakating, as does Lumberland’s Harold Camacho.
Camacho said the decision on where to take the dogs and how long to keep them is up to the town.
Those left at a shelter are generally turned over if they aren’t claimed by the owner, he said, and they’re up for adoption.
Even in a quiet town like Lumberland, Camacho said, there are stray dog problems.
But he points the finger at residents who don’t take care of their animals, folks who don’t spay and neuter pets, people who feed an animal occasionally but don’t look after its welfare the rest of the time.
“We don’t have a dog problem; we have a people problem,” he said.
Of course, there are some towns that still make use of the shelter in Rock Hill.
The Town of Rockland has long made use of the SPCA, but Supervisor Pat Pomeroy said the SPCA didn’t sign its contract forms this year (the forms were actually lost more than once by SPCA officials, she said).
The plan is to craft an inter-municipal agreement with the Town of Liberty so Dog Control Officer Hank Wolcott can take the strays out to Liberty.
There are two other towns working with the SPCA who have no plans to make a change.
Dogs running wild in the Town of Fremont are captured by Dog Control Officer Ray Swack and taken out to Rock Hill. Swack is husband of SPCA President Bonnie Swack.
Canines in the Town of Tusten are also taken to Rock Hill – Dog Control Officer Michael Cookingham will pick up the dogs, but they are sheltered at the SPCA.

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