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Local control of dog licenses shortchanges CNY SPCA

Since New York state's Department of Agriculture recently dropped the dog license program, Onondaga County's 19 towns and the city of Syracuse had to pick it up, effective Jan. 1.

For years, the CNY SPCA and the Onondaga County Health Department - under Animal Disease Control - have had a yearly contract to assist the non-profit with its programs. Out of an estimated $70,000, $30,000 was funded through revenue from dog licensing. But since the state dropped the program, the county doesn't get the $30,000, and consequently, neither does the CNY SPCA.

"That money is gone now," said SPCA Executive Director Paul Morgan, adding those funds were specifically earmarked for the cruelty investigation department.

In come the city and towns: Morgan is asking that officials consider adding a $2 surcharge to their dog license fees.

Losing a hefty portion of county funding will affect its cruelty department, Morgan said, which now consists of one full-time employee and two part-timers, including Morgan.

A potential decrease in staff and services could further affect how many cases the cruelty team can investigate.

Towns have asked how they can justify a surcharge for the CNY SPCA when it has nothing to do with dog licensing. Morgan has an answer. It's to support the animal organization's programs.

"It's going to a good cause, it's a not-for-profit, and it's supporting our programs," Morgan said. "If someone comes in and owns a dog, I don't think it's going to be an issue. One hundred percent [will] go back to the SPCA ...

"And it's not hitting people who don't have animals," he said.

According to records from the Onondaga County Health Department, there are approximately 28,500 dog licenses issued in Onondaga County each year. If all municipalities agree to add a $2 surcharge, the CNY SPCA would exceed its $30,000 goal by approximately $17,000.

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