SARANAC - The drive to an animal shelter is one ride your dog won't want to take and it's one dog control officer Mark Plumadore tries to avoid.
"It can be pretty traumatic for an animal to be away from its owner, so I go out of my way to not put a dog in a shelter if I don't have to," said Plumadore, who has spent five years on the job for the town of Saranac. "It's just heartbreaking when you drop one off and they're looking at you like you're their last hope from being put in a cage."
Plumadore said he's consistently tried to reunite dogs with their owners prior to taking them to a shelter and now, his efforts are even more important. That's because the town is now sending all stray dogs to the Tri-Lakes Humane Society animal shelter in Saranac Lake. The town previously sent strays to the Elmore SPCA shelter in Peru, but recently made the decision to switch to the Saranac Lake shelter as a cost-savings measure, said Plumadore.
"This was about $1,400 less a year for the town," Plumadore said of the change. "It was a big cost savings and the way economic times are, you've got to go with what's best for the taxpayers."
Now that strays will be taken to the Saranac Lake shelter - which is nearly twice the distance of going to Elmore SPCA - Plumadore said it's even more important dog owners keep their pets licensed. Those whose dogs are taken to the no-kill shelter will need proof of a rabies vaccination for their animal in order to redeem it, said Plumadore.
"If they don't, the dog is going to be vaccinated and the people are going to be billed for it," he said.
Additionally, if a dog is not licensed, the owner will be required to pay for its licensing and any applicable shelter fees before it can be taken home.
Additional fees are something Plumadore tries to avoid. That's another reason he will be performing a dog census this month, going door to door throughout the town to compile a list of licensed dogs for his records.
The census will also help Plumadore find unlicensed dogs. By law, dogs age four months and older must be licensed. The owners of those found not to be will receive a written warning, giving them 10 business days to have the animal licensed. If the dog is not licensed in the allotted time, the owner will receive an appearance ticket for town court.
"If they get a ticket and the dog is not licensed when they go to court," said Plumadore, "the judge is going to fine them $25 and still require them to license the dog."
Those who are missing a dog or who have questions regarding the town's dog control policy may contact Plumadore at 293-6267 prior to 9 p.m. The Tri-Lakes Humane Society animal shelter is located at 255 George Lapham Memorial Highway, Saranac Lake, and may be reached at 891-0017.