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Town and Village

Selectboard seeks to control animals — with an officer, or otherwise

Town to explore sharing services with Brattleboro

PUTNEY—Town Manager Cynthia Stoddard has urged the Selectboard to appoint an animal control officer as soon as possible, or find some other way to fill the town’s needs for someone to respond to complaints about animals.

At the board’s March 25 meeting, Stoddard reported receiving scant response to the letters she sent to members sitting on boards and committees. She noted that Henry Farnum, who until recently served as animal control officer, has yet to be replaced.

Animal control was one need widely discussed with great interest at a March 19 Windham Regional Commission meeting to discuss shared municipal services, Stoddard reported.

She says Putney is interested in sharing this service with Brattleboro, and she has reached out to Peter Elwell, that town’s town manager, “even though Brattleboro just cut their animal control officer to part-time,” Stoddard said.

Stoddard noted that should Putney enter into an agreement with Brattleboro.

“It’s going to cost some money.” Selectboard member Steve Hed said, “as opposed to $0,” which is what Farnum had been paid, because he refused to bill the town for his services.

Stoddard confirmed there is a line item in the town’s budget for $1,000 per year for animal control.

Having an animal control officer in town is crucial because, with spring here, Stoddard reports that calls have already started coming in about “dogs all over the roads.”

Although a recent dog-bite call was handled by Health Officer Tom Goddard, general animal complaints are not officially part of his duties.

Stoddard said that although her office often receives complaints about animals, she cannot and will not respond to them because “personally, I’m afraid of dogs, and I’ll probably get bit.”

Hed suggested, partly in jest, “You need backup.” Selectboard member Scott Henry proposed getting Stoddard a Taser.

Stoddard said she will post the board and committee vacancies, with descriptions, to local media.

“We’ll put it as many places as we can,” she added.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #299 (Wednesday, April 1, 2015). This story appeared on page C1.

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