Officer on lookout for dogs without tags

March 30, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

MONT ALTO, Pa. - Franklin County dog owners beware: Georgia Martin is making the rounds in her green Dodge pickup truck with its white cap and she's on the lookout for unlicensed dogs.

Martin, the state dog law enforcement officer for Franklin County since 1998, is targeting eight communities this year in her search for dogs without proper tags and up-to-date rabies vaccinations.

Cats 3 months old and older that live inside at least part of the time also must be vaccinated for rabies, she said.


Martin drives around looking for signs that a dog may be present, stops at the house and knocks at the door. Earlier this month, she made the rounds in Fayetteville, Pa.

About 50 percent of the people she investigates don't have their dogs licensed or proof of rabies shots, she said Monday.

"It's amazing," she said.

This week, she'll be in the Mont Alto area looking for violations.

Her license and rabies inspections this year will run through August. In addition to Mont Alto and Fayetteville, the Franklin County communities of Doylesburg, Fannettsburg, Beartown, Quincy, Welsh Run and Orrstown are on her inspection rounds. The state law requires that all dogs 3 months or older be licensed by Jan. 1 each year.

The fee for dog licenses for a spayed or neutered animal is $6.50. Tags for dogs that have not been spayed or neutered cost $8.50. Senior citizens and persons with disabilities pay $4.50 for tags for a spayed or neutered pet and $6.50 for other dogs.

The maximum fine for conviction of having an unlicensed dog or a dog with an expired rabies vaccination is $300, but owners rarely have to pay that amount.

Martin files her cases with the district justices.

A spokeswoman in District Justice Larry Pentz's office In Waynesboro, Pa., said an average fine for a dog violation for first offenses usually runs around $25. Added to that are $52 in court costs, bringing the total to $77.

Martin said she sends out press releases specifying which communities she will be checking and when she will be there.

Her license and rabies checks are done when she has time, she said

Martin also investigates complaints of dogs running at large, dog-bite cases and cases of damage done by dogs, among other duties.

She does not investigate animal cruelty cases, barking dog complaints or complaints about cats, she said.

Anyone with questions can call Martin at her office at 717-762-9794.

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