The Village of Freeport recently updated its animal codes, which had not been revised since the 1960s. When local rescue group Our Best Friends Rescue realized that the laws were outdated, it brought them to the attention of Village Attorney Howard Colton in early December. Freeporter and OBFR volunteer Paula Werner, 53, said she was alarmed when she realized the codes were outdated and often unclear.
By Dec. 18, the laws were updated and sent to New York’s secretary of state for review and approval. Colton said the updates are already in effect, and include changes in the tethering and leashing of dogs, along with codes that clarify the definition of inclement weather and prohibit animals from being left in cars in cold or hot weather.
“Parts of the code we updated were areas that needed clarification,” Colton said. “There were changes over the years, but that was to allow the Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to come into the village to enforce village codes.”
He added, “It was great that they, Our Best Friends Rescue, came to us and asked that we adopt new laws.”
The village adopted some of the laws from the Town of Hempstead that would fit best with the village, according to Colton. The attorney also said he realized that fines for violation of pet codes had not been raised since the ’60s and were still at minimums of $25 to $75, depending on the violation. The new fines range from $250, with a possible punishment of 15 days in the Nassau County Corrections Facility, or $500, also with a possible 15 days in jail.
“I think that some of the most important parts of this code,” Colton said, “are the provisions protecting animals when they’re outside.”
Our Best Friends Rescue is a nonprofit organization that fosters dog ownership on Long Island and in other parts of the United States. For the last 12 years, the organization has worked to provide temporary homes for dogs of all ages and breeds, regardless of their medical conditions, with the intent of finding them permanent homes.
“Unfortunately there are so many dogs given up,” Pattie Lazarus, 62, from Freeport, said. In a single week, according to Lazarus, the organization has taken in a dozen dogs. If they’re not caring for the dogs, the group is advocating for them, educating the community on how to care for their dogs and be responsible owners.
“People think that because we’re in Nassau County, that it’s Nassau County rules,” said OBFR volunteer Maria Menichetti, 61, from East Meadow. “People also think because it’s an animal that they have dominion over it and no one can tell them what they can or cannot do with their own animal because they own it.”
The volunteers said they were pleased that the village officials, particularly Colton, worked with them to update the codes. “The bottom line is that no dog should be left alone in the car,” Lazarus said. “We want the public to be aware that there are laws.”