Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- Dog control officers were called to more than 2,500 complaints in Syracuse last year.
Just last week, three puppies were rescued in different places
– all were severely malnourished and abandoned.
Several groups spoke to city officials on Thursday, hoping to put more pressure on animal abusers.
"The animal welfare system in our area, locally is broken and dysfunctional,” said Joan Antczak with The Animal Alliance.
Animal advocates are calling on city hall to get tough with irresponsible breeders. This month, Common Councilors approved a $20,000 mobile software program to help dog control officers keep track of complaints on the go.
"They can literally look at it and see who is there, how many times we were there, what we were there for. Did we seize a dog? Did we issue an appearance ticket? Did they go to court? Do they have a license? If they do have a license, here is the licensing number,” explained Syracuse Dog Control Supervisor Shane Chimber.
The city's animal control officers can hand out tickets and have dogs seized. But, police can arrest serious offenders. Since September, a Syracuse police officer has been dedicated to investigating hundreds of complaints, part-time. Animal advocates want a full-time commitment to fight growing trends of neglect and abuse.
"Backyard breeding and organized dog fighting, those two issues seem to be stemming what we are seeing where these animals are ending up in shelters, being euthanized, and also being abused on the streets,” said Stefanie Higgins with the Syracuse Pit Crew. "Many of these pups, if they survive puppy-hood are ultimately used in dog fighting, if not as fighters, then as bait to give fighting dogs a taste for blood."
Convincing the city to find more funding may be the biggest obstacle.
"Other communities have been able to pull together to stop it and I think we can do it too,” Antczak said.
Common Councilor Bob Dougherty said the city gave the SPCA $10,000 last year for animal cruelty cases. The money came from dog registrations. Soon, people will be able to register pets online. Councilors hope the convenience will encourage more compliance and bring in more revenue.