Advertisement

Humane Society director: Dog licenses should come with benefits

Making licensing process more convenient and adding value would encourage more compliance

Making licensing process more convenient and adding value would encourage more compliance

July 28, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- More dog owners would probably comply with the county's licensing requirements if licensing were more convenient and came with benefits, such as faster care for dogs found wounded, Humane Society of Washington County Executive Director Paul Miller told the Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday.

Miller's suggestions came during a workshop to discuss potential improvements to the county's animal control ordinance, which was created in 1990 and was last revised in 2001. The current round of revisions is an opportunity to add, change or clarify sections that have created problems since the ordinance was last revised, Assistant County Attorney Kirk C. Downey said.

Miller said the number of dogs currently licensed in the county is probably only a fraction of the actual number of dogs, despite the county's requirement that dogs 4 months of age and older be licensed each year.

Miller suggested making licensing more convenient by offering three-year and lifetime licenses, and encouraging more veterinarians to sell the licenses on-site to owners who bring their dogs in for rabies vaccinations.

Advertisement

The county might have to raise the percentage of the licensing fee it gives to veterinarians to make it worthwhile for them to provide the service, Miller said.

He said the county should only offer lifetime licensing to owners who agree to have their dogs microchipped, so the county can verify that a certain dog is the same one that was licensed.

Licensing efforts would also be more successful if licenses were marketed as a benefit to the owner, Miller said. Now, he said, many dog owners view licensing as merely a tax on dog ownership.

Miller suggested making licensing a form of insurance, which would guarantee that if a licensed dog was found wounded, the county would pay for up to $200 worth of veterinary care.

Miller also offered for the Humane Society to take over responsibility for licensing dogs. Currently, the county treasurer's office sells and issues the tags, but the Humane Society keeps copies of the records, Miller said. The Humane Society's records would be more reliable if the organization did not depend on another agency to provide it with copies, he said.

Another major change proposed for the animal control ordinance would introduce a new designation to give "potentially vicious and dangerous" animals a chance to improve their behavior before being given a permanent "vicious and dangerous" label, Downey said.

Currently, animals can be labeled "vicious and dangerous" after only one attack, which has led to protests from owners who say their pets were otherwise well-behaved, Miller said during a commissioners meeting in March.

The commissioners will continue to discuss potential revisions at future meetings and will hold a public hearing on the ordinance before bringing it to a vote, Downey said.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|