CHAZY Animals running loose are a nuisance for residents in many rural areas, no less so in the towns of Mooers and Chazy. For newly-installed animal control officer David Underwood, making sure animals are properly leashed and licensed will be his number one priority. According to Mooers town secretary Carol Payne, Mr. Underwood took over the position from the retiring Bruce Supernant Jan. 1. The full-time position is split between the towns of Mooers and Chazy. Speaking shortly before his start date, Mr. Underwood said residents could expect to see an increased focus on enforcing Article 7 of the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law, which relates to licensing, identification and control of dogs. The full text of the law is available at www.agmkt.state.ny.us/AI/AGM_ART_7.pdf . Among other things, the law requires all dogs over the age of four months be vaccinated against rabies and licensed. Dogs are also required to wear their identification tags on their collars at all times. Owners who violate the law can be fined. Repeat violators can be subject to fines of not more than one hundred dollars or imprisonment for not more than fifteen days, or both. Both towns also have leash laws that will be strictly enforced. According to Mr. Underwood, dogs are required to be on a leash whenever they are off the owners property. We have enough of a deer problem without worrying about dogs running loose, too, he explained. Dogs can be seized for several reasons: if they are running loose, if they are unlicensed, or if they appear dangerous or a threat to public safety. In order to reclaim their animals, owners will be required to pay a kennel fee and prove the animal is vaccinated and licensed. It is his appreciation of animals, dogs in particular, that attracted Mr. Underwood to the position. In preparation for his duties, he built a kennel in his yard to hold stray or seized animals. He also had to supply his own vehicle for transporting animals. Mr. Underwood is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to respond to calls, regardless of the weather. That will probably be the biggest challenge, he explained. If a call comes in at 10 p.m. during a snowstorm, I still have to respond. He does have a few words of advice for owners, hoping to keep their dogs on the right side of the law. Make sure your dogs are licensed and up on their shots, he said. We will be enforcing leash laws. To license a dog, residents of Mooers should contact their town clerk at 236-4281. Chazy residents should contact their town clerk at 846-7544. To report stray or problem animals, residents of Mooers and Chazy can reach Mr. Underwood directly at home at 263-4135 or on his cell phone at 534-5887.