LEWISTOWN - Once a year, people have to do several things required by law, such as have the car inspected and pay taxes. There is often overlooked annual requirements for dog owners - renewing the dog license and making sure vaccinations are up-to-date.
Mifflin County Dog Warden Melissa Bair said that most of the time, people just forget to renew their licenses.
In addition, dogs and cats must be vaccinated against rabies, which Bair said is extremely important because rabies poses a serious threat not only to other animals but to people as well.
Sentinel photo by KIERNAN SCHALK
Region 5 Supervisor of Dog Law Enforcement Harold Walstrom and Mifflin/Juniata Dog Warden Melissa Bair found these two unlicensed female Beagles on Granville Run Road recently and transported them to the Pennsylvania SPCA Centre Hall Adoption Center, where they will be cared for and put up for adoption.
To help track down people who have not renewed their dog license, Region 5 Supervisor of Dog Law Enforcement Harold Walstrom has an electronic database with almost every known dog owner in his district.
Walstrom said there are around 1,600 unlicensed dogs in Mifflin County and 1,400 unlicensed dogs in Juniata County, most of which are one year behind in compliance. However, there are some people who have not had their license renewed in many years.
"Basically what we are trying to say is, we know who you are and we know where you are, so go buy a dog license," Walstrom said, adding that it is only a matter of time before someone is caught and fined.
Lost You Dog?
Call Mifflin/Juniata Dog Warden Melissa Bair at 527-4016. Dog licenses can be purchased at county treasurer's office.
"We want them to have licenses, not just because it's the law but it's your pets' ticket home as well," Bair said of those dogs who stray from home and can be returned to their owners quickly if they have a license.
"We are not out to get people," Bair said of how she realizes that most people are not what she calls "deliberately non-compliant" dog owners who refuse to abide by the law.
Since October 2008, fines for the owners of unlicensed dogs have increased.
"A fine plus court costs is around $100 minimum, and that is per dog. It is a heck of a lot cheaper to get a dog license then to get fined," Bair said.
The cost of a dog license is $8 for non-spayed or non-neutered dogs and $6 for spayed or neutered dogs, and senior citizens prices are $6 and $4, respectively. Dog licenses can be purchased at the county treasurer's office.
Bair said that many times, dog owners wait for days or even weeks before calling her about a missing dog that has no license. At that point, there is not much Bair can do because if the dog was found, it was taken to the Pennsylvania SPCA Centre Hall Adoption Center. The PSPCA is only required to hold unlicensed animals for 48 hours, at which point the animals are put up for adoption.
"If you lose your dog, call the dog warden. It should be the first call you make," Bair said.