Dogs in East Hampton

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It’s a familiar situation for Betsy Bambrick and her workers in East Hampton’s Animal Control Department: An unlicensed dog is roaming the streets, the owner is nowhere to be found, and neighbors have called Ms. Bambrick’s office on Pantigo Road to report it.?The department’s four full-time employees picked 343 dogs off the street in 2007—an average of nearly one a day, Ms. Bambrick noted in a recent interview. “It was a pretty big year,” she said. “There has been a pretty steady increase since I started in 1989.”?As East Hampton becomes more densely populated—over time, and particularly over each summer season—a dog on the street without its owner becomes a more familiar sight and the calls to Ms. Bambrick’s department more frequent.?In her own effort to keep tabs on dogs and hold owners responsible for adhering to the town code, which prohibits letting dogs roam free, Ms. Bambrick said that she has made it her philosophy to actively monitor parts of town for dogs on the loose and regularly issue summonses to those who violate the town code.?In her weekly court appearances on Mondays, Ms. Bambrick deals on the average with summonses for about four to six dog owners, she said. The majority of those people, she explained, have been served with a summons for either failing to license a dog or allowing it to run at large outside their property. For a first offense on either charge, most owners are fined $25.?Ms. Bambrick, whose husband, Donald Bambrick, is the head of animal control for Southampton, said that when she took the job in 1989, she saw the need for a more aggressive approach. “Nothing negative against him—it was just a different way to do things,” she said of her predecessor, Henry Chapman. “It was just a lot more passive.” The town’s animal control office, she said, “

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