Pooch maneuver

Pollard said she never once used it.

"We have a better handle on our database than the state does," she said.

While the town of Elbridge has its own database as well, Steve Remp, the town's dog control officer, will feel the loss of the statewide registry.

"On weekends it will be a pain in the butt," he said. "The database was a big help to me on weekends; during the work week I can call the town office."

The town of Camillus, whose dog population towers over that of Marcellus, has relied entirely on the database ever since it was established four years ago. The state's catalog made it easy to transfer dogs between towns, said Town Clerk Martha Dickson-McMahon .

Dickson-McMahon noted that when the dog control officer finds a dog from another town - one that is properly licensed -- he will now have to get on the phone and track down the appropriate town official. The new law requires the tags carry the name of the town and the town's phone number, along with the registration number.

"We're losing an awful lot of convenience and I'm pretty disappointed about it," Dickson-McMahon said.

A shifting program

The new law significantly changes the Animal Population Control Program, which was enacted in 1995 in an effort to encourage adoptions from animal shelters. The program offered vouchers for spay and neutering services to people who adopted dogs and cats from the pound.

The APCP was amended in 2006 to reach out to low-income pet owners, making vouchers available to them, regardless of where they obtained their pet. According to a letter from the state summarizing the program changes, this is what did the service in.

"Due to the unprecedented demand created by the 2006 law," it reads, "the balance in the dedicated APCP Fund - fortified primarily by a $3 surcharge on licenses issued for unaltered dogs - depleted quickly."

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