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Town meeting closes with a new bylaw to fine dog owners for failure to clean up

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TOWNSEND — The annual town meeting concluded on Thursday night on a lighter note as voters approved a new bylaw dealing with dog droppings.

The article, put on the warrant by petition, will now slap residents with a $25 fine for failing to pick up after their animals.

Cemetery and Parks Commissioners proposed the article, noting the amount of droppings left around town is causing health concerns.

The new bylaw states that owners or handlers of dogs must pick up any feces left on sidewalks, streets, playgrounds, cemeteries, parks, school property or on neighbor’s property. The feces is to be put into plastic bags and disposed of either in a toilet or in a trash container.

Roy Shepherd made a motion to amend the bylaw to state that the feces cannot be disposed of in town hall rest rooms or any other public facility.

Selectman Peter Collins asked Shepherd, “I assume you are trying to say there is enough of that stuff in Town Hall already?” which drew laughter from the 100 participants in the meeting.

Another voter asked who would be responsible for imposing the fine.

”It would be under the Board of Selectmen to enforce the bylaws,” said Planning Board Chairman Jeffrey Peduzzi. “The person who committed this heinous crime would be brought before the board,” which again drew laughter from the audience.

Collins said the animal control Officer, or any Townsend police officer, would hand out the fines.

Mary Jane Krueger said she helped draft the article, as the feces problem has mounted over time.

”Before school children go out and play, the teacher’s aide has to go outside first to clean up,” Krueger said. “Also, there was a 275th Anniversary event on the common and the children could not play in a particular area due to doggie gifts.”

Susan Funaiole, assistant to the town clerk, said she used to be a teacher’s aide and had the job of cleaning up after the dogs had visited the playgrounds.

”It was not a fun thing to do, so I urge everyone to vote yes on this article,” Funaiole said.

When the article was brought to a vote, Police Chief Erving Marshall laughingly cast one of the few opposing votes. The article was easily adopted.