Town of Bethel, NY
Sullivan County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Bethel 12-8-2010 by L.L. No. 7-2010.[1] Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Noise — See Ch. 220.
Zoning  — See Ch. 345.
[1]
Editor's Note: This local law also repealed former Ch. 83, Animals, consisting of Art. I, Dogs, adopted 7-6-1988 by L.L. No. 3-1988 (Ch. 60 of the 1990 Code), as amended, and provided for an effective date of 1-1-2011.

§ 83-1 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter shall be to preserve the public peace and good order in the Town of Bethel and to contribute to the public welfare and good order of its people by enforcing certain regulations and restrictions on the activities of dogs and other animals that are consistent with the rights and privileges of the owners of dogs and other animals and the rights and privileges of other citizens in the Town of Bethel. Further, the purpose of this Chapter 83 is to provide for the licensing and identification of dogs, the control and protection of the dog population and the protection of persons, property, and domestic animals from dog attack and damage.

§ 83-2 Definitions.

As used and intended in this chapter and for the purpose hereof, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated. This chapter shall also adopt the definitions set forth at § 108 of the New York Agricultural and Markets Law, except for those terms appearing below:
ANIMAL
Any nonhuman animal consisting of a mammal or other vertebrate, including but not limited to domesticated animals and domestic animals.
AT LARGE
As applied to an animal, as herein defined, designates and describes a domestic or domesticated animal when it is off the premises of its owner or on the premises of another without the latter's consent, without being contained by leash or accompanied by its owner or other responsible person in full control of such animal. For the purposes of this chapter, a dog or dogs hunting in company with a hunter or hunters shall be considered as accompanied by its owner in full control of such dog.
CONFINED
As applied to a domestic or domesticated animal, that such animal is securely confined or restrained and kept on the owner's premises, either within a building, kennel or wire or other suitable enclosure or securely fastened on a chain, wire or other effective tether of such length and so arranged that the animal cannot reach or endanger any person or any adjacent premises or be on any public street, way or place, or, if the animal is being transported by the owner, that it is securely confined in a crate or other container or so restrained in a vehicle that it cannot escape therefrom.
DANGEROUS ANIMAL
Any animal which, without just cause, bites, attacks, chases or snaps at or otherwise threatens to attack any person or attacks and wounds a dog or other domesticated animal or domestic animal or which displays any other fierce, vicious or dangerous propensities.
DOMESTICATED ANIMAL
Any animal that has had its behavior, life cycle, or physiology systemically altered as a result of being under human control and is kept as a household pet, including but not limited to dogs, cats, and similar pets.
IDENTIFICATION TAG
A tag issued by the Town which sets forth an official identification number together with the following contact information, which contact information may be revised from time to time by resolution of the Town Board:
Town of Bethel
State of New York
(845) 583-4350
Identification No. ____________
OWNER
Any person who harbors or keeps any dog or animal. The term "owner" includes any owner of record. If a dog is not licensed, the term "owner" shall include any person who at any time owns or has custody or control of, harbors or is otherwise responsible for any dog which is kept, brought or comes within the Town.
OWNER OF RECORD
The person in whose name any dog was last licensed under the provisions of this chapter, except that if any license is issued on application of a person under 18 years of age, the owner of record shall be deemed to be the parent or guardian of such person. If it cannot be determined in whose name any dog was last licensed or if the owner of record has filed a statement pursuant to the provisions of § 112 of the Agriculture and Markets Law, the owner shall be deemed to be the owner of record of such dog, except that if the owner is under 18 years of age, the owner of record shall be deemed to be the parent or guardian of such person.
PUBLIC NUISANCE
As applied to an animal:
A. 
Any dog which, by its frequent barking, howling or whining or other disturbing noise, unreasonably disturbs the comfort and/or repose of any person or persons so as to injure health or interfere with sleep.
B. 
Any animal which habitually chases any persons or bicycles, automobiles or other vehicles upon any public highway or in any such public place.
C. 
Every animal which is a dangerous animal, and every such animal is hereby declared to be a public nuisance.
D. 
Every animal which creates a health hazard.
TOWN
The area within the corporate limits of the Town of Bethel.
TOWN BOARD
The governing body comprised of the duly elected or appointed members of the Town Board of the Town of Bethel.

§ 83-3 Responsibility of owners.

The owner of every animal which is at any time kept, brought or comes into the Town will be held responsible for the strict observance by such animal and with respect to such animal of all the rules and regulations contained in this chapter at all times when such animal is within the Town.

§ 83-4 Confinement of animals in heat.

The owner of every female animal must effectively confine to his or her premises such animal at all times during every period while such animal is in heat.

§ 83-5 Leash requirements.

No person who owns a dog shall permit such dog to be at large in the Town of Bethel, Sullivan County, New York, unless under a leash not exceeding eight feet in length, other than when on the premises of the person owning, keeping, harboring or having the custody and control of such dog or upon the premises of another with the knowledge, consent and approval of the owner of said premises or when hunting in the company and under the control of a hunter or hunters.

§ 83-6 Dangerous animals.

It shall be unlawful for any animal determined to be dangerous to be at large within the Town of Bethel at any time, even though such animal is licensed, muzzled and effectively immunized against rabies. A dangerous animal which is found at large may be seized and impounded. If any dangerous, fierce or vicious animal found at large cannot be safely taken up and impounded, such animal may be summarily euthanized. The Animal Control Officer shall, if necessary, photograph such animals for future identification purposes.

§ 83-7 Animal Control Officer.

A. 
The Town of Bethel shall appoint an Animal Control Officer as needed, pursuant to the appropriate statute of the State of New York. It shall be the duty of such Animal Control Officer of the Town of Bethel to enforce the appropriate provisions of the Agriculture and Markets Law with respect to dogs in the Town of Bethel and to enforce this chapter.
B. 
The Animal Control Officer of the Town of Bethel is authorized to seize any animal which is found to be in violation of any portion of this chapter as well as any dog otherwise required to be seized under and by virtue of the Agriculture and Markets Law of the State of New York. All complaints concerning alleged violations of this chapter shall be communicated to the Animal Control Officer. All such complaints shall be investigated, and it shall be the duty of the Animal Control Officer in the appropriate case to proceed with civil or criminal enforcement of this chapter or any other provisions of law pertaining hereto.
C. 
The Animal Control Officer is authorized to issue appearance tickets.

§ 83-8 Animals as public nuisances.

All complaints made under any provisions of this chapter must be in writing, signed and sworn to before a Town Justice. Such complaint shall be promptly heard and determined by a currently presiding Town Justice after written notice of said complaint to the owner of such animal, appointing a time for such hearing, which shall not be less than three days after service of said notice on the owner. Service of the notice may be satisfied by personal service, certified mail, return receipt requested, or by any other method reasonably calculated to provide actual notice to the owner as determined by the Town Justice. If the Town Justice finds that the complaint made is duly established, he shall determine and declare such animal to be a public nuisance or make any other determination consistent with the provisions of this chapter and other laws relating thereto.

§ 83-9 Limitations on dog barking.

A. 
Disturbing the peace. It shall be unlawful to own, harbor or keep in custody any dog which disturbs the peace by barking between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. for more than one hour, or for a period of less than one hour but more than 1/2 hour when said period occurs on two consecutive days. Between 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m., barking for more than 1/2 hour or for a period of less than 1/2 hour but more than 1/4 hour when said period occurs on two consecutive days is unlawful. Such behavior shall be deemed to disturb the peace and cause the annoyance and discomfort of persons in the Town of Bethel.
B. 
Warning procedure.
(1) 
Any resident of the Town may request, in writing, that the Town of Bethel Animal Control Officer, Constable or Code Enforcement Officer warn any person who shall own, harbor or keep in custody any dog which disturbs the peace by barking.
(2) 
Any such request shall identify the owner of the premises, the keeper or custodian of the dog and the name and address of the person making the request. Upon receipt of such request the Town of Bethel Animal Control Officer, Constable or Code Enforcement Officer shall investigate the complaint and, upon satisfaction that there is probable cause that such complaint is valid, shall give the owner, keeper or custodian of the dog a warning.
(3) 
The warning shall consist of personal delivery of a copy of these provisions to such owner, keeper or custodian, or to someone in their household, or by mailing a copy of these provisions if the violator resides outside of Bethel Town, together with a written notice that no further warning shall be given and that any future complaints shall be prosecuted according to law.
(4) 
A violation of this provision shall be deemed to have occurred upon a second or subsequent violation of Subsection A above which occurs after the date of delivery of the aforesaid warning.

§ 83-10 Abandonment.

Any dog at large which does not display any current dog license or other means of identification or which fails to exhibit any evidence of having had administered to it a rabies vaccination shall be considered an abandoned dog and may be summarily seized and impounded by the Animal Control Officer.

§ 83-11 Redemption of seized dogs.

A. 
Every dog seized shall be properly fed and cared for at the expense of the Town of Bethel until disposition thereof as herein provided and in accordance with the applicable provisions of the Agriculture and Markets Law of the State of New York.
B. 
Every dog seized shall be treated in a humane manner.
C. 
If the dog seized bears a valid license tag, the Animal Control Officer shall ascertain the owner of the dog and shall give immediate notice by personally serving the owner of record or by mailing said notice to such owner of record or an adult member of his or her family, with a notice in writing stating that the dog has been seized and will be made available for adoption or euthanized unless redeemed as herein provided.
D. 
The owner of a dog so seized may redeem the dog within seven days, except that the owner of a dog bearing a valid license tag may redeem the dog within 12 days, by paying to the Town Clerk or Animal Control Officer such impoundment fees as set forth at § 83-18 hereof, plus the amount of care and maintenance of the dog reasonably expended by the Town during its period of impoundment.
E. 
If not so redeemed, the owner shall forfeit all title to the dog, and the dog shall then be made available for adoption or euthanized subject to the provisions of Agriculture and Markets Law §§ 118 and 374, as applicable. In the event of such adoption, the purchaser shall pay to the Town Clerk such impoundment fees as set forth at § 83-18 hereof, plus the amount of care and maintenance of the dog reasonably expended by the Town during its period of impoundment. The purchaser shall also obtain a license for such dog in the Town where the purchaser resides. The Animal Control Officer who causes such dog to be euthanized shall make a written report of such destruction and disposition to the Town Clerk, stating that the dog was euthanized. The Town Clerk shall keep a record of all dogs which are euthanized.

§ 83-12 Limitation of number harbored.

It shall be unlawful to keep more than four dogs of licensing age on any property, regardless of the number of owners, unless there is minimum of 10,000 square feet of lot area per dog and a special use permit has been obtained to operate a kennel on said premises. Kennels shall be located only within those specific zoning districts so designated under Chapter 345, Zoning, and the Planning Board shall be authorized to impose special setbacks, buffers and other measures to limit noise, odor, water pollution and other impacts on adjacent properties. No kennel shall be operated on any property which lacks a full-time manager or resident manager to deal with problems of noise and other impacts on adjoining properties.

§ 83-13 Dog licenses required.

A. 
All dogs within the Town of Bethel four months of age or older, unless otherwise exempted, shall be licensed. Notwithstanding the foregoing, any dog under the age of four months which is found to be at large by any Town employee authorized to enforce this section must be licensed. The owner of each dog required to be licensed shall obtain, complete and return to the Town Clerk a dog license application together with the license application fee, any applicable license surcharges and such additional fees as may be established by the Town of Bethel. Each license application shall be accompanied by proof that the dog has been vaccinated against rabies or a statement from a licensed veterinarian that such vaccination would endanger the dog's life in which case vaccination shall not be required. Each license issued shall be valid for a period of one, two, or three years at the election of the applicant and shall not be transferable.
B. 
In the case of a spayed or neutered dog, every license application shall also be accompanied by a certificate signed by a licensed veterinarian or an affidavit signed by the owner, showing that the dog has been spayed or neutered, provided such certificate or affidavit shall not be required if the same is already on file with the Town Clerk or Animal Control Officer. In lieu of the spay or neuter certificate, an owner may present a statement certified by a licensed veterinarian stating that he has examined the dog and found that because of old age or other reason, the life of the dog would be endangered by spaying or neutering. In such case, the license fee for the dog shall be the same as for a spayed or neutered dog as set forth at § 83-16, hereof.
C. 
Each dog licensed pursuant to this chapter shall be assigned, at the time the dog is first licensed, a permanent official identification number. Such identification number shall be carried by the dog on an identification tag which shall be affixed to a collar on the dog at all times.
D. 
The Town Clerk shall, 30 days prior to the month of expiration of any dog license issued hereunder, send written notification of the obligation to renew any expiring dog license to the owner of record. The Town Clerk shall, 30 days after the month of expiration of any dog license issued hereunder which has not been renewed, send written notification of the obligation to renew any expired dog license to the owner of record.

§ 83-14 Exemptions.

A. 
Any dog harbored pursuant to the provisions of Agriculture and Markets Law § 107, Subdivisions 3 and 4, is exempt from the licensing and identification provisions of this chapter.
B. 
Any dog held at a shelter or pound operated pursuant to a contract with the Town of Bethel or any duly incorporated society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, humane society, or dog protective association is exempt from the licensing and identification provisions of this chapter.
C. 
Any dog harbored within the Town of Bethel which is owned by a resident of New York City or licensed by the City of New York, or which is owned by a non-resident of New York State and licensed by a jurisdiction outside the State of New York, shall for a period of 30 days be exempt from the licensing and identification provisions of this chapter.

§ 83-15 Dog licenses issued by shelter.

The Town of Bethel may authorize any shelter under contract with the Town of Bethel acting by the shelter manager to provide, accept and grant an application for a dog license made by a resident of the Town of Bethel at the time of the adoption of a dog from such shelter provided that such application is made in accordance with § 83-13 hereof and the license fee, and any surcharges shall be remitted to the Town Clerk of the Town of Bethel on or before the third day of the month following the month in which the license fee and additional fee and surcharge was received. Copies of any license issued under this section shall be:
A. 
Transmitted to the Town Clerk within five business days after the license has been validated; and
B. 
Retained by the shelter manager.

§ 83-16 License fees.

A. 
There shall be a fee for a dog license application made in accordance with § 83-13 hereof as well as dog license surcharges and additional dog license fees, as set forth herein. These license fees and surcharges will be established and revised, as necessary, from time to time by resolution of the Town Board. License fees and surcharges shall be established for one-, two- and three-year licenses.
B. 
In addition to the license fee imposed by § 83-16A, each applicant for a dog license shall pay an additional surcharge for any dog four months of age or older which has been spayed or neutered in accordance with § 110 of the Agriculture and Markets Law. All fees collected pursuant to the provisions of this subsection shall be forwarded by the Commissioner to the State Comptroller for deposit in the animal population control fund, created pursuant to § 97-xx of the State Finance Law and § 117-a of the Agriculture and Markets Law.
C. 
In addition to the license fee imposed by § 83-16A, each applicant for a dog license shall pay an additional surcharge for any dog four months of age or older which has not been spayed or neutered, unless the owner presents with the license application a statement certified by a licensed veterinarian stating that, because of old age or other reason, the life of the dog would be endangered by spaying or neutering. In accordance with § 110 of the Agriculture and Markets Law, all fees collected pursuant to the provisions of this subsection shall be forwarded by the Commissioner to the State Comptroller for deposit in the animal population control fund, created pursuant to § 97-xx of the State Finance Law and § 117-a of the Agriculture and Markets Law.
D. 
There shall be no fee for any license issued for any guide dog, hearing dog, service dog, war dog, working search dog, detection dog, police work dog or therapy dog. Each copy of any license for such dogs shall be conspicuously marked "Guide Dog," "Hearing Dog," "Service Dog," "Working Search Dog," "War Dog," "Detection Dog," "Police Work Dog" or "Therapy Dog," as may be appropriate, by the Town Clerk.

§ 83-17 Enumeration fees.

In addition to any other applicable fee, any person applying for a dog license for a dog identified as unlicensed during an enumeration conducted pursuant to § 83-23 hereof shall pay an additional fee as established from time to time by resolution of the Town Board. Such additional fee shall be the property of the Town of Bethel and shall be used to pay the expenses incurred by it in conducting the enumeration. In the event the additional fees collected exceed the expenses incurred by the Town of Bethel in conducting an enumeration in any year, such excess fees may be used by the municipality for any other lawful purpose.

§ 83-18 Impoundment fees.

A. 
The owner of any dog impounded by the Town of Bethel shall be entitled to redeem that dog within the time period established by § 83-11 hereof, excluding the day the dog is impounded, from the day the dog is impounded, provided that the owner produces proof the dog is licensed and identified. The owner of any dog impounded by the Animal Control Officer shall pay impoundment fees as established from time to time by resolution of the Town Board.
B. 
All impoundment fees shall be the property of the Town of Bethel and shall be used only for controlling dogs and enforcing this section and the applicable provisions of the Agriculture and Markets Law § 117, including subsidizing the spaying or neutering of dogs and any facility as authorized under § 116 of the Agriculture and Markets Law used therefor, and subsidizing public humane education programs in responsible dog ownership.
C. 
No unlicensed dog otherwise required to be licensed under this chapter will be released from impoundment until the owner secures a dog license from the Town Clerk in the Town where the owner resides.

§ 83-19 Spaying and neutering of dogs.

The Animal Control Officer shall not release any dog for adoption to any person unless prior thereto:
A. 
The dog has been spayed or neutered; or
B. 
The person intending to adopt a dog shall have executed a written agreement with the animal shelter, pound, dog control officer, humane society, dog protective association, or duly incorporated society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, to have the dog spayed or neutered within 30 days from the adoption date, or in the case of a dog which has not yet reached sexual maturity, within 30 days of the dog reaching six months of age. The person intending to adopt a dog shall deposit with the Animal Control Officer an amount of not less than $35 or as may be revised from time to time by resolution of the Town Board; or
C. 
The person intending to adopt a dog shall have executed a written agreement with the Animal Control Officer to have the dog spayed or neutered within 30 days from the adoption date, or in the case of a dog which has not yet reached sexual maturity, within 30 days of the dog reaching six months of age. The person intending to adopt a dog shall have paid an adoption fee which includes the cost of the spay or neuter procedure. The written agreement shall require that the Animal Control Officer bear the cost of the spay or neuter procedure upon payment of the adoption fee. The age of the dog at the time of adoption shall be determined by the Animal Control Officer and such age shall be clearly written on the written agreement prior to the agreement being executed by the person adopting the dog.

§ 83-20 Penalties for offenses.

A. 
The Town reserves its rights under § 118 of the Agriculture and Markets Law to prosecute a violation or seek a civil penalty from the owner or custodian of a dog for any of the offenses described therein, including an unlicensed dog or a dog at large, as follows:
(1) 
Where prosecuted pursuant to the Penal Law, by a fine of not less than $25, except that:
(a) 
Where the person was found to have violated § 118 of the Agriculture and Markets Law or former Article 7 of Chapter 69 of the Agriculture and Markets Law within the preceding five years, the fine may be not less than $50 dollars; and
(b) 
Where the person was found to have committed two or more such violations within the preceding five years, he or she shall be punishable by a fine of not less than $100 or imprisonment for not more than 15 days, or both; or
(2) 
Where prosecuted as an action to recover a civil penalty, by a civil penalty of not less than $25, except that:
(a) 
When the person was found to have violated § 118 of the Agriculture and Markets Law or former Article 7 of Chapter 69 of the Agriculture and Markets Law within the preceding five years, the civil penalty may not be less than $50; and
(b) 
Where the person was found to have committed two or more such violations within the preceding five years, the civil penalty may not be less than $100.
B. 
The Town may prosecute as an action to recover a fine or civil penalty for any violations of this Chapter 83 as follows:
(1) 
An owner or custodian of a dog in violation of § 83-5, Leash requirements, shall be subject to a civil penalty of not less than $75 for the first offense and subject to a fine of not less than $100 for each subsequent offense for the same dog that occurs within 365 days of the date of a prior conviction or civil determination for the same offense;
(2) 
An owner or custodian of an animal or dog in violation of § 83-6, Dangerous animals, shall be subject to a fine of not less than $250 for the first offense and subject to a fine of not less than $350 for each subsequent same offense for the same animal or dog that occurs within 365 days of the date of a prior conviction for the same offense. Within 30 days of any judicial determination that an animal or dog is a dangerous animal, said animal or dog, at the sole cost and expense of the owner or custodian thereof, must be spayed or neutered and implanted with a microchip permanently identifying the animal or dog as a dangerous animal;
(3) 
An owner or custodian of an animal or dog in violation of § 83-8, Animals as public nuisances, shall be subject to a civil penalty of not less than $75 for the first offense and subject to a fine of not less than $100 for each subsequent offense for the same animal or dog that occurs within 365 days of the date of a prior conviction or civil determination for the same offense;
(4) 
An owner or custodian of a dog in violation of § 83-9, Limitations on dog barking, shall be subject to a civil penalty of not less than $75 for the first offense and subject to a fine of not less than $100 for each subsequent offense for the same dog that occurs within 365 days of the date of a prior conviction or civil determination for the same offense; and
(5) 
An owner or custodian of an animal or dog in violation of this Chapter 83 of the Town Code not otherwise designated in § 83-20B(1) through (4) above shall be subject to a fine or civil penalty not to exceed $50 for the first offense and subject to a fine of not less than $75 for each subsequent offense for the same animal or dog that occurs within 365 days of the date of a prior conviction or civil determination for the same offense.
C. 
Each day of violation shall constitute a separate offense.

§ 83-21 Change in status.

A. 
In the event of a change in the ownership of any dog which has been assigned an official identification number or in the address of the owner of record of any such dog, the owner of record shall, within 10 days of such change, file with the Town Clerk a written report of such change. Such owner of record shall be liable for any violation of this chapter until such filing is made or until the dog is licensed in the name of the new owner.
B. 
If any dog which has been issued a license is lost or stolen, the owner of record shall, within 10 days of the discovery of such loss or theft, file with the Town Clerk a written report of such loss or theft. In the case of a loss or theft, the owner of record of any such dog shall not be liable for any violation of this chapter committed after such report is filed.
C. 
In the case of a dog's death, the owner of record shall so notify the Town Clerk either prior to renewal of licensure or upon the time of such renewal as required by § 83-13 hereof. Failure to notify the Town Clerk of the death of a dog as so required herein shall constitute a violation and the owner of record shall be held liable.

§ 83-22 Limitation of liability.

The owner, owner of record, harborer or possessor of any animal seized, euthanized or adopted under the provisions of this chapter shall not be entitled to any compensation, and no action shall be maintainable against the Town thereafter to recover the value of said animal or other damages absent proof of gross negligence or willful conduct on the part of the Town, its officers, employees, contractors or agents.

§ 83-23 Dog enumeration.

The Animal Control Officer appointed in accordance with this chapter shall conduct a dog enumeration every three years first commencing in the year after the adoption of this chapter. The Animal Control Officer shall ascertain and list the names of all persons in the Town owning or harboring dogs and make a written report thereof within two weeks of the completion of the dog enumeration. Said report shall be filed with the Town Clerk.

§ 83-24 Dog show exemption.

A dog participating in a duly authorized dog show held within the Town shall be exempt from the identification requirement of § 111 of the Agriculture and Markets Law during such participation.

§ 83-25 Severability.

If any section, subsection, sentence, clause, phrase, or work of this chapter is for any reason held to be invalid by any court of competent jurisdiction, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining provisions hereof.