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Lancaster residents criticize conditions at Walden Avenue kennel

The hot-button issue of dog control and town kennel services continues to garner attention in the Town of Lancaster.

Some residents last week called attention to the deplorable conditions at the kennel on Walden Avenue.

Town officials pointed to their efforts to overhaul dog control operations and yet still offer 24-hour coverage with six part-time dog catchers at lower pay than former ones were previously paid to save about $100,000 in department expenses.

The town remains undecided on whether to keep operating its rundown kennel, take its stray dogs to the Clarence town kennel, or build an improved kennel at Lancaster’s old police headquarters on Pavement Road.

A former dog control officer several years ago, Michael Wehner, described to the Town Board what he observed on a recent visit to the kennel. “I didn’t see proper cleaning materials and saw conditions that I didn’t care for,” said Wehner.

“It appears to me we have a first-class town and a Third World dog control right now,” Wehner said.

Buffalo Paws & Claws rescue group has helped adopt out the remaining few dogs at the kennel left from when Dog Control Officer David R. Horn died in January.

Among them is Willow, who lived at the pound for years and was a buddy to Horn. She is presently in a foster home.

A State Agriculture and Markets official was to begin training new dog control staff Friday, as the Town Clerk’s office also begins to take over the handling of dog redemption fees, as well as licensing fees and initiating plans for a townwide dog census.

The town has not done a census in several years, but officials indicated one could begin as early as this summer.

Fudoli said the days of the town having unclaimed dogs live at the kennel for multiple years are over, and that dogs will not be held for longer than five days before they are turned over to a rescue group or the SPCA.

“I think we’re putting measures in place that are above and beyond anything ever done in the past,” Fudoli said.