By Jano Tantongco
The Huntington Town Board has proposed sweeping changes to the portion of town code that pertains to animals, including cracking down on owners who do not pick up their animal’s waste, or who leave their animal unattended in a vehicle without proper ventilation.
Changes include limiting the amount of time dogs may be tethered to no more than two continuous hours in a 12-hour period; mandating that dog owners pick up their dog’s waste, secure it in a sealed plastic bag and deposit it in a covered garbage can; banning the use of choke collars; requiring that animals tethered for more than 15 minutes must have continuous access to food, shelter and water; and prohibiting owners from leaving animals in unattended vehicles without sufficient ventilation.
The proposal was spurred by a resolution the board originally proposed last month. That proposal was intended to protect harbor waters by cracking down on pet owners who do not pick up their pet’s waste, but the board opted to instead initiate further changes to the town code. The new legislation will be the focus of a public hearing July 12, 2 p.m., at Huntington Town Hall.
Regarding pet waste, the proposed changes would make it illegal for dogs to defecate, urinate or “commit a nuisance” on public property except for the portion of a public street between “curb lines,” according to the proposal. Additionally, it would be illegal for the same to happen on private property without the consent of the property owner.
The proposal was penned by Huntington Councilman Mark Cuthbertson, and spurred by a meeting the town attorney’s office had with Brian Shapiro, New York State director of the Humane Society of the United States.
Cuthbertson said he learned that similar animal laws have been passed in the Town of Hempstead, leading him to consult with Huntington’s Animal Control Division and the New York chapter of the Humane Society.
He said the proposed stipulations would be enforced by the town’s Department of Public Safety’s Animal Control division.
“These updates will allow Code Enforcement to better protect the health, welfare and safety of Huntington residents and their animals,” Cuthbertson said in an email Wednesday.
The pet waste portion of the proposed law came out of the first organizational meeting of the Inter-Municipal Council for the Northport Bay Complex, which agrees to enact uniform municipal codes for the Town of Huntington and the incorporated villages of Asharoken and Northport.
The proposal aims to protect the bay from the “contaminating effects of pet waste in order to protect the health, safety and general welfare of those using local wasters from exposure to this particular source of pathogenic bacteria.”
Violations of the portions dealing with leaving animals unattended, tethering and choke collar would range from $500-$5,000. As for infractions for waste disposal, those penalties would carry a fine of $250, or up to 15 days imprisonment.