ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER ASKS: Why Would Anyone Want a Rooster?
Since Groton residents are mostly caring, law-biding citizens, it is surprising how many ignore their responsibility to register their dogs with Town Hall, along with proof of vaccination for rabies and distemper. Based on average frequency of dog ownership, it is reliably estimated that as many as half of all dogs in Groton are unregistered.
A rough statistical measure says that there could be about 1,000 unregistered dogs in town, unvaccinated dogs, probably presenting a health threat to humans and other animals for possible transmission of rabies or distemper.
Fortunately for Groton residents, a man named George Moore is our animal control officer. George radiates a laid-back style, sense of humor and patience that makes him perfect for a job requiring the emotional insight of a top-flight therapist and the skills of a master teacher.
Not So Silly
George knows that registering a dog with town hall can seem like a silly bureaucratic intrusion. But, if you need someone to explain why registering your dog is good idea, a commonsense way to avoid the potential for future havoc in your life, George is that man.
How to Avoid Quarantine
He strongly recommends residents register their dogs to avoid experiencing an enforced quarantine of an animal possibly exposed to rabies. Such quarantines can be very burdensome depending on circumstances, lasting as long as six months. Last year George issued 11 quarantine orders for possible exposure to rabies. In addition, unvaccinated dogs are a health threat to humans and domestic animals.
It only costs $10 to register neutered or spayed dogs and $15 for other dogs. So, he says, for a very small cost you can ensure yourself against encountering a very large hassle further down the road.
George explains that a variety of wild animals are possible vectors or carriers for rabies; woodchucks being at the top of the list, followed closely by bats.
Barking Dogs Are No. 1 Compliant
Barking dogs are the animal control officer’s number one complaint. But, George says, speaking with the wisdom of many such encounters, barking dog complaints usually have ‘less to do with the dog itself than the parties in the dispute’. For example, dogs sometimes bark for extended periods because owners go to work leaving the dog staked outside. The dogs get bored, want to go back in the house, and start a barking frenzy, sometimes lasting hours. “So who’s at fault, the dog or the owner?” he asks
George advises people to the call the police dispatcher if a neighbor’s dog barks for an unreasonable length of time. Calling police dispatch creates an official record of the incident. Although owners tend to become defensive when confronted with a barking dog complaint, George tells them, “Your neighbors are entitled to peace and quiet too.”
Dealing with Nuisance Dogs
If a dog becomes a nuisance, George first leaves a warning note if nobody’s home. If somebody is home, George chats with them. “Usually, people say, “I don't agree, but its something I have to take care of.” If a dog owner is unwilling or unable to curb a dog’s barking, George writes a violation notice based on town bylaws. He explains, “There are two options: you can appeal the violation, or you can pay the fine. More often than not, people usually just throw it in the rubbish, unfortunately.” Ignoring such a violation has consequences.”
If people ignore a third warning, the case goes to criminal court. George says it can take as long as a year to resolve some cases, adding that he may have to remove a nuisance dog from a home and take it to the town shelter. He adds, “Most dogs don’t do well in a shelter.”
Loose dogs are probably the number two issue he confronts. Unfortunately, people say, “Well, it’s just a dog.” He explains, “Some owners let the dog out in the morning and it won't come back until evening.” The other problem he has with loose dogs is “menacing, harassing or threatening.” Also, dog bites - dog to dog or dog to person are problems.
“About one-third of the problems I deal with have to do with chickens,” George says adding that most owners of chickens are conscientious. He says, “Everybody's got chickens. I have to make sure the conditions are good, lots of light and fresh water and food. Groton people do a good job with the chickens.”
Chickens ‘Free Ranging’ In Neighbors Yard
“Some people say, ‘They're free range chickens.’ I usually get involved when one person’s chickens are ‘free-ranging’ in their neighbors yard.” He adds, “There's a right-to-farm bylaw. You can have chickens, but you've got to keep them on your own property.”
Why Would Anyone Want a Rooster?
Clearly, George has a long-standing issue with roosters due to their potential to create neighborhood havoc. He says, "In my opinion, I don't know why anybody would need a rooster. If you have a rooster, you’re going to listen to that rooster just as much as your neighbor. Let's say you put a light on in the house at night - the rooster might start crowing.” Speaking of roosters, he says, “They're not nice to chickens, other roosters or people. Why the heck would you have a rooster?” He explains that people have a rooster because they want to raise there own chickens, but says they eventually realize that at least half of those chicks are going to turn out to be roosters.