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February 26, 2013

Animal control changes in works

New procedures seek to squelch questions

SALISBURY — Changes in the town’s handling of animal control issues are in the works after Salisbury’s current practices surrounding the treatment and boarding of confiscated animals were recently called into question.

As a result of the allegations, Town Manager Neil Harrington is altering procedures on how animals are confiscated and where they are boarded. He said all the improvement are aimed at eliminating any semblance of impropriety and not because he thinks the town’s animal control officers have done anything wrong.

The first change is that the town’s part-time animal control officer Harold Congdon will document in writing every time he or his daughter, Tina Boucher, who handles the responsibilities after hours on an on-call basis, are forced to confiscate an animal, Harrington said. That information will be filed in the town manager’s office.

Harrington is also researching the potential for contracting with the same private kennel that Amesbury uses to board animals that are picked up in Salisbury.

Currently, Salisbury boards animals either confiscated or picked up in town at Congdon’s kennel at his property on Elm Street.

Harrington said having the town’s animal control officers board confiscated animals in their own kennels, earning the $45-per-day boarding fees, has raised eyebrows with some people, who believe it creates a conflict of interest.

The town manager said while Congdon and Boucher only respond when complaints are lodged against an animal or its owners and aren’t driving around town hunting for stray dogs to pick up to board in their kennel, contracting with a private kennel would eliminate any appearance of a conflict.

Harrington is also looking into the fee-for-service costs involved for animal control issues and how those payments are handled.

Congdon has been Salisbury’s part-time animal control officer for many years. Three years ago, he also assumed the role in Amesbury through a joint agreement between the two communities.

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