WENDELL -- Work on getting all dogs in town vaccinated and licensed is ongoing with members of the selectboard now personally calling those holding out.
Months ago it was found that as many as 40 residents had not vaccinated for rabies and/or licensed their dogs with the town clerk. With the selectboard threatening legal action against many of the residents the number of unlicensed canines in town had dwindled down to only 12 remaining as of this month.
At a previous meeting each selectboard member agreed to contact four residents each, either by phone or in person, to directly address the issue. At Wednesday night's meeting only chairperson Christine Heard was able to boast that all four of the residents had responded by reporting to either the clerk or dog officer.
The reason most heard by dog officer Maggie Haughton and selectmen was that those with elderly dogs were opposed to vaccinations, with one resident citing a bad reaction their older dog had to the last vaccination as the reason for not doing so.
Selectman Dan Keller said that one resident was outright refusing to vaccinate their dog because of evidence that such vaccinations can cause more harm than good. It was suggested that the resident could get a titer from a vet. A titer is a medical report that shows there is a significant amount of antibodies in the dog's blood to protect it from a disease. Haughton replied though that the state will not accept a titer in lieu of an actual vaccination record.
It was agreed the only thing a resident could do was get a letter from a veterinarian explaining a medical reason for why a dog can't be vaccinated.
Another excuse given for not licensing the dogs was financial hardship. At this point a late fee is attached to the cost of licensing dogs. Haughton noted that the town clerk can waive a late fee but not the initial licensing fee which is $5 for an intact dog and $4 for one that has been spayed or neutered.
The board signed three of the four appointments to the newly minted Wendell Access Committee that was created following a vote at a recent special town meeting. The committee is meant to have five members but only four individuals came forward. The board agreed to sign Gail Mason and Sharon Wachsler to three year terms and Chris Fontaine to a two-year term. The fourth name to come forward was Nancy Riebschlaeger but the board felt that she is already on too many committees and would not be able to focus as much effort on the access committee without taking some away from the other committees. Riebschlaeger is currently the chair of the energy committee and serves on the planning board and the broadband committee.
The board signed an application for the National Flood Insurance Application but noted that some additional information is needed from the Franklin Regional Council of Governments before the application can be formally submitted to the federal government. This will allow residents to join a government subsidized flood insurance program.
The board also signed an easement agreement with the Quabbin Valley Land Trust that owns land adjacent to the town offices building. The easement was approved at the last special town meeting and will allow the occupant of the house to park two cars on the lot.