Animal control: unlicensed dog warnings ‘taken out of context’

Sep 22, 2021

ROCHESTER — Upset dog owners took to Facebook on Wednesday, Sept. 22 to voice their displeasure with a press release from the Rochester Town Clerk that threatened to “catch and confine” unlicensed dogs until their owners paid a unspecified fee.

The public press release also contained a file listing the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of allegedly unlicensed dogs and their owners, though one Facebook commenter said she was put on the list for failing to register a dog that died last year, despite registering her other two dogs.

As of Wednesday night, the release on the town website appeared to be amended to exclude the list of unlicensed dogs.

Despite the strongly worded press release, longtime Rochester Animal Control Officer Anne Estabrook said that the statement about catching and confining animals was “taken out of context” and that if there was such a warrant, she hadn’t received it yet.

Estabrook explained that their standard procedure has always been to take stray dogs to the shelter only if they cannot be identified. Once at the shelter though, owners of unlicensed dogs are required to pay licensing fees to collect them.

Estabrook said that she has never been directed to catch or confine dogs that are not strays purely for being unlicensed.

Rochester Town Clerk Paul Dawson could not immediately be reached for comment.