Riverhead to take 2nd look at animal code

Riverhead Town Hall is at 200 Howell Ave. Riverhead Town Hall is at 200 Howell Ave. Photo Credit: Carl Corry

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Riverhead's town board had a deja vu moment when, for the second time in a month, Mary Egan complained to it that a proposed change in the town animal control code could mean big problems for pet owners, because it lets anyone call the police if they feel threatened by a dog, even if the canine is fenced in.

Egan lives near the Atlantis aquarium, and said hundreds of people walk by her house each day, drawing barks from her dog when they loiter. She complained Wednesday night about a provision that could let a dog be taken if anyone says they feel "intimidated . . . or in reasonable apprehension of bodily harm."

Last month, some town board members told her that her dog should bark at loiterers, and said they would look into the way the law is written. But the language was not changed. Instead, the resolution, tabled Feb. 5, resurfaced. And this time the board voted 5-0 to pass the code change. Town attorney Robert Kozakiewicz said the resolution had to be adopted before the town transfers control of the municipal shelter to the not-for-profit North Fork Animal Welfare League on March 1.

The resolution dealt mostly with giving agents of the town -- currently the shelter is under the police department -- authority to seize and hold dogs. Kozakiewicz said the provision was similar to codes of other East End towns.

Town board members agreed with Egan but did not have enough time to address the resolution before the transfer was to take place.

Supervisor Sean Walter said he would call for another resolution at the first town board meeting in March to change the resolution the board adopted, eliminating the offending phrase. "We'll hold another public hearing to strip this out," he said.

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