By Chris Paul
During the Monday night, April 11, Town Council meeting, Town Clerk and the wife of Town Council Chair, Sherry Farrell asked member if they would consider looking at the current animal control ordinance, 2016-02 Chapter VIII-Animal Control, and perhaps make the ordinance a bit stronger, citing a number of recent incidents with dog related attacks.
She said the town “has a dog ordinance, but we don’t have a Leash Law,” adding that she wasn’t sure if that’s where the town should head but looked to have it considered.
She said the current ordinance is very vague when it comes to keeping a dog under control.
It states, “In no case shall any dog be un-leashed on the Londonderry Rail-Trial or on the Londonderry Town Common, included the forested area adjacent to the Town Common and commonly referred to as the Town Forest.”
She said there have been a number of incidents where residents have been scratched; seniors have been knocked down and in one case a dog actually attacked and killed another dog.
Farrell said, “Our residents have to be able to walk in their neighborhoods and not be fearful of a dog running out of the dog’s own yard.” Adding that this has been a constant problem the last few months.
“It’s gotten really scary, and it’s one case after another,” Farrell said.
She ended by saying that her and Animal Control Officer Dave Carver have horrific pictures of what is happening in town and the town needs to really take control of it.
If the council chooses to move forward with changes to the ordinance there would need to be a number of steps taken to do so, including a public hearing.
Councilor Deb Paul asked Farrell if members could get some of the information she has about the number of incidents in town. Specifically, she was hoping to find out how many there have been, and if they were in public places. Saying she would hate to have residents who have one-time issues being effected.
Farrell agreed, saying, “The truth is somewhere in the middle. We could start with just bringing awareness to the public.”
Paul also mentioned the need in town for a public area to allow residents to let their dogs burn off energy, currently most people go to Derry and Hudson for that.
Of note, the current ordinance defines “Running at Large” as a dog in, on, or being walked upon, a public street, park, parkway, cemetery, town forest, trail-way or other public place in the Town of Londonderry, or in a public street, sidewalk or right-of-way adjacent to a public place and is not secured by a leash or chain or within a carrier which is in the possession of a person of sufficient strength and age to effectively restrain the dog or under the direct control of its handler by means of personal presence and attention as will reasonably control the conduct of such dog. Notwithstanding anything in this section to the contrary, no person shall be compelled to keep any dog in his possession on a leash while in or upon any public street, alley, park, cemetery, parkway, trail-way or other public place in the Town of Londonderry, if the dog is securely confined in an vehicle or is under the direct control of its handler. Evidence that the dog accosted jumped on or otherwise bothered a person not its owner or handler shall be evidence that the dog was not under the direct control of its owner.
Farrell also brought up the need for additional ways for the town to get more information to the residents, and thought the sign at the high school has been very effective and thought the town should look into something similar.
“Down the road if we could ever afford a message board to represent this part of the town on the town-side of things it would really serve the residents well.”