Grieving children, heartbroken owners, dogs going without lifesaving medication — the newspaper and Internet notices of lost animals can break the heart of the most hardened reader. Some owners even promise hundreds of dollars in reward for the safe return of a beloved family pet.
For $14 — the price of a dog license — the vast majority of these heartaches could be averted, said Craig Stanley, director of administrative services for Summit County Executive Russ Pry.
A license is a dog’s ticket home, he said.
“For the most part, a dog with a license has a much better chance of making it home if it gets lost,” Stanley said.
On July 28, the county will sponsor a license amnesty day giving dog owners a chance to comply with the law without paying a penalty. Owners will be able to buy a 2012 dog license without incurring the $14 in late fees normally charged. Dog licenses must be renewed annually from Dec. 1 through Jan. 31 or within 30 days of acquiring a new dog.
The special licensing events will be held at several Akron-area Acme Fresh Markets.
Licensing a dog provides people with proof of ownership and the legal authorization to visit area dog parks and participate in pet-friendly community activities, as well as other advantages.
By law, three days after an unlicensed, at-large dog is picked up by a dog warden or taken by a private citizen to the county’s animal control facility, the agency can process it for adoption, or if it is deemed old, vicious or unwell, it can be euthanized. The agency is charged with protecting the public from nuisance dogs.
But a dog wearing a license is automatically treated as if it is in the fast lane at an amusement park. It will receive additional time before being placed for adoption, giving shelter workers the opportunity to find and notify owners and owners time to locate their dog.
“By law, any licensed dog that is brought into the shelter will see a veterinarian right away” for any treatment it might need, Stanley said. In addition, the county is required to keep the dog for 14 days and Summit County Animal Control employees will make every attempt to find the owner by tracking the dog’s license number.
A person who finds a licensed dog can log onto the county’s Web site at http://fiscaloffice.summitoh.net/ index.php/dog-licensing/sc, type in the license number and learn the owner’s name and address.
“My dog never runs loose,” is the most common excuse Stanley said he hears from people who ignore the law.
“Our kennel is full of dogs that never get loose.”
The county licenses dogs for two reasons, he said.
“Every penny we make on licenses goes into the dog and kennel fund and must be used to take care of the animals,” Stanley said.
Secondly, it’s the law, he said. The owner of an unlicensed, at-large dog will be cited and faces fines and court costs that can range from $250 to $1,000.
There are as many as 60,000 unlicensed dogs in Summit County, Stanley said. And one way or another through tax dollars, the public pays for dog owners who don’t comply with the law, he said.
“We get some money from the [county] general fund for things like utilities. We try to be self-sufficient, but it doesn’t always go that far,” Stanley said.
The county is also asking that those who take advantage of the amnesty program bring a can of dog food to donate to the shelter.
Kathy Antoniotti can be reached at 330-996-3565 or email@example.com.