Dog Licenses

There is hardly a community that doesn't require dogs to be licensed. Dog licenses serve several purposes. They are a means of identification, serve as a checkup or census of the local dog population, contribute toward the operation of shelters or "pounds," and provide funds for indemnities for livestock injured or killed by dogs.

In the big livestock-producing states, the indemnity fund is very important. Marauding dogs injure or kill a considerable number of livestock, especially sheep. But such a fund is rarely used in cities and suburbs that have license fees, but no livestock. These areas do have people bitten by dogs. There is, as yet, no provision in most dog license laws to pay medical expenses of people bitten by dogs.

The need for such a provision has been recognized by various county and town governments. New York's Westchester County Board of Supervisors has taken steps to provide such protection. The Board agreed that "it's time we recognize that a human being is worth as much as a cow or hog." The Board has petitioned the state legislature to allow the county to use dog license fees to help pay for medical expenses of persons injured by dogs. Dog bites are not uncommon in Westchester County. Last year, a six-year-old girl was so severely bitten by a dog that she had to have 300 stitches. The Board is also requesting that dog license fees in the county be raised. License fees now range from $2.25 to $5.00.

Dog licenses vary in cost according to the locality and the sex of the dog. In some areas, there is a flat fee for all dogs regardless of sex. In others, there is a fixed fee for males and spayed females, and a higher fee for unspayed females. When obtaining a license for a spayed female, you will have to produce a certificate from a veterinarian stating that the clog was spayed.

Inquire about your local license laws and get a license for your dog. This is advisable not only because it's the law, but as a protection for your dog. If he is lost and is wearing his license tag, your chances of getting; him back are better. A license tag is very important in those states that allow dogs to be used for vivisection. Usually unclaimed and unlicensed dogs may be used for medical research. But a dog that is currently licensed may not be sent to a laboratory.

The age at which dogs must be licensed is also variable. Some localities say all dogs, regardless of age, must be licensed. Others require all dogs over the age of six months to be licensed. Inquire at your local police station or town clerk as to the age requirements. Failure to get your dog licensed may result in the seizure of your dog or a fine or both.

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