When John Conley first saw the puppy a warden had delivered to Summit County Animal Control, the bulldog-mix stray weighed all of 3 pounds.
He was so tiny when he was found wandering on an Akron street, some of the workers at the shelter thought he would grow to be no more than 20 pounds.
“I think they told me that to sucker me into adopting him,” Conley joked earlier this week.
A year and a half later, the dog, christened Willie by Conley’s daughter, tips the scales at 112 pounds.
“He went from 3 pounds to a monster,” said Conley, who adopted the dog 18 months ago after paying a $90 fee that included all the dog’s vaccines, inoculations, neutering and a 2011 Summit County dog license.
Conley, who is Summit County’s maintenance and grounds supervisor, took Willie back to the shelter Thursday to remind other owners it is time to renew dog licenses for 2013. He also announced the former stray has been certified by the National Association of Search and Rescue as a full-fledged working dog after 15 months of intense training.
While he has no intention of allowing Willie to get lost again, Conley said that if it should happen, he is prepared.
“You notice he has a license and he’s microchipped,” Conley pointed out as the mild-mannered Willie made his rounds visiting employees, including Craig Stanley, director of administrative services for County Executive Russ Pry, and Christine Fatheree, director of Summit County Animal Control.
“Willie is an example of the many success stories we have, due in part to dog license revenues. The funds provide shelter, food and medical care and can only be used for animal control,” Stanley said.
Renewal letters for current license holders were mailed out to Summit County residents this week, Fatheree said.
“Ohio law requires dog licenses must be renewed annually from Dec. 1 through Jan. 31 or within 30 days of acquiring a new dog,” she said.
Summit County residents are charged $14 annually to license their dogs. If a license isn’t renewed by the Jan. 31 deadline, an owner can be charged an additional $14 in late fees plus fines, Fatheree said.
Each license carries its own number that is registered with the county, which helps identify the owner if the dog goes missing. In addition, owners may report their missing pets and see if someone found it through a service provided by the county’s Fiscal Office at www.fiscaloffice.summitoh.net/index.php/dog-licensing on the Web.
Dog and kennel licenses can be paid online with a credit card or electronic check, or purchased at several neighborhood locations throughout Summit County listed on the site where license tags are available for an additional $.75 processing fee.
Willie, who lives with Conley’s family in New Franklin along with a rescued cat and two other dogs, has garnered a spot on the all-volunteer North Central Ohio K-9 Search and Rescue team that provides aid and support to law enforcement. In the 18 months Conley has owned him, Willie has sailed through several obedience classes and search-and-rescue training classes under animal instructor Martin Warchola, owner of Best Paws Forward Dog Training Academy in Medina.
Although Willie has grown to a weight he could easily throw around, the former stray has never shown aggression toward a cat, a dog or “anything else,” Conley said.
“He gets bossed around by a 6-year-old Jack Russell terrier,” he said.
Kathy Antoniotti can be reached at 330-996-3565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.