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New village law protects animals

WATKINS GLEN--Trustees of the village of Watkins Glen passed Salty's Law at the Tuesday, July 2 meeting. This local law strengthens animal welfare and cruelty prevention as well as consumer-breeder-broker responsibilities.
The law was championed by village resident Barb Cook, named in memory of and enacted as a legacy to her dog, Salty. It will be enforced by the village of Watkins Glen Police Department, and according to Cook, covers dogs, cats, ferrets, and domestic rabbits.
"This law will protect animals in the village of Watkins Glen," said Cook, who is an avid dog rescuer. "It ensures that an animal will be safe from extreme temperatures, will have adequate food, and will be secured. It supplements laws that are already in place and may serve as a model for other municipalities."
Although bringing the process to closure was long, Cook said, it was also rewarding. Salty's Law, recorded as Local Law #4 of 2019 (available at, recognizes that "animal cruelty is a serious problem, resulting in the abuse of thousands of animals each year in the United States. While New York State has criminalized the cruel treatment of animals, animal abuse and hoarding continue to occur in the village of Watkins Glen and throughout the State."
To combat this, the law outlines parameters for minimum care that must be met for domestic animals in the village. More specifically, the law states domestic pets must have access to enclosed, temperature-controlled structures, appropriate food and water and a maintained area. The law also regulates when and for how long dogs can be tethered. Regulations for pet dealers, breeders and brokers also set minimum standards for food, water, shelter, sanitation, veterinary care and recordkeeping, and exercise.
Coincidentally, this law was passed during discussions regarding the dog sheltering process in Schuyler County. County Legislator Phil Barnes encouraged the trustees to "weigh in on the issue" under discussion across the county. Currently, six towns in Schuyler County have indicated a desire to contract with a private entity to provide dog control services rather than signing a new contract with the Schuyler County Humane Society. Discussions are on-going, with decision-makers indicating plans for continued discussions throughout the week.
"Schuyler County will not allow dogs to become collateral damage in the process," said Schuyler County Administrator Tim O'Hearn Tuesday afternoon. "We will continue to provide services until a resolution is found."
In other news, the village trustees again fielded public comments about short-term rental property management issues in the village. According to public comment, the property at 407 South Madison Ave. continues to host more than 10 people. Mayor Luke Leszyk noted his research concluded the reservations for parties exceeding the 10-person limit at this property were lawful, as they were made before the local law was in place. This data conflicts with research conducted by a village resident in attendance who said he spoke with the guests. In addition, the trustees were informed that at least three properties--the Loft at Inner Peace Floats, 413-419 South Madison, and a property on Franklin Street--continue to encourage more than 10 guests at a time through their advertising. The trustees discussed the possibility of sending letters to these property owners, reminding them of the local law.
Finally, the village has begun discussions regarding the future of the old wastewater treatment facility.
"We have had the first round of public meetings with SCOPED to discuss how to reuse the site," said Leszyk. "The land is not for sale. It will remain village property. We are open to development ideas and leasing, similar to what the county does with the marina. We look forward to public input for thoughts on developing the area."

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