Oak Bluffs selectmen tackled animal control at Tuesday’s meeting, after an increasing number of complaints from residents.
Funds for animal control services were not included in the current year budget proposed by selectmen and approved by voters at the annual town meeting. Voters later rejected a $254,361 Proposition 2.5 override question that included $28,000 for animal control services.
Currently the town’s animal pound is not staffed, and there is no appropriation for catching, transporting, or caring for loose animals.
Police chief Erik Blake told selectmen police will still respond to anything criminal in nature, including animal cruelty, vicious dogs, animal bites, or noise complaints. But, he said, police officers will not respond to reports of loose or lost pets, restrained dogs, or injured animals.
“There are some loose ends that are going to fall through the cracks,” Chief Blake said. “It’s going to take some time to adjust.”
Selectmen agreed to explore several options, including sharing an animal control officer with Tisbury, or asking the Animal Shelter of Martha’s Vineyard to provide services. They also noted cuts elsewhere in the town budget will be necessary to fund animal control services.
Also Tuesday, selectmen authorized the town highway department to clear a new path along Worcester Avenue, leading to Lagoon Pond. The last 200 feet of a long established path crosses private property owned by the Kopans family. The highway department will move the path to the town owned right of way.
In other action, selectmen appointed Bill Alwardt to the shellfish committee. They appointed Rene BenDavid and James Dorsey to the harbor advisory committee.
After the public session, the board went into closed executive session to discuss strategy with respect to collective bargaining or litigation.