Itâs the end of the year, and that means those who havenât yet paid for their dog tags for 2018 are now getting ticketed for failing to pay.
“Youâre seeing a lot of citations … itâs just that time of the year where weâve tried every angle that we could get and the people just arenât complying and the court is our last resort,” Portage County Dog Warden Dave McIntyre said.
His office has filed 50 unlicensed dog cases in Portage County Municipal Court in Ravenna as of Nov. 14, more than twice as many as the 23 minor misdemeanor cases that were filed in 2017, according to court records.
While tags cost $15 between Dec. 1 and Jan. 31 for the upcoming year, the price jumps to $30 after that. Those who end up in court for having an unlicensed dog generally end up paying a $38 fine, plus $117 in court costs, for a total bill of $155.
Depending on the circumstances, the dog wardenâs deputy has the option to either cite a dog owner or give a warning, McIntyre said. If the officer does cite, itâs usually because the office has given several warnings to that dog owner.
His office places dog tag ads in the newspaper and puts reminders on social media, McIntyre said, but April is when his office starts to issue warnings to people who still havenât gotten their dog tags. His office has a record of all the licensed dogs, but they get tips from other people as well.
“We get a lot of neighbor disputes,” McIntyre said.
People call to complain their neighborâs dog wonât stop barking, for example, or that a dog is unleashed.
The office also hires college students over the summer to walk door-to-door and post warnings on doors of people who have not yet bought their dog licenses.
The Portage County Dog Wardenâs office doesnât receive tax dollars, McIntyre said, instead sustaining itself from donations, dog license fees and fines.
Janet Esposito, Portage County auditor, said her office sells dog tags, and most of McIntyreâs budget comes from those licenses. She said the dog wardenâs officeâs 2018 expenses are estimated at $458,800.
But itâs more than just money that makes the dog wardens want to license dogs. Unlicensed dogs mean the warden has to hold loose dogs in the shelter, instead of immediately taking them back to their families.
McIntyre said about 31,500 dog tags were issued in 2018. He estimated about 35,000 dogs are in Portage County.
The office has 32 kennels, McIntyre said, and is a no-kill shelter. Between 20 and 30 dogs are generally at the shelter, though that figure fluctuates.
The dogs in the office available for adoption are posted on petfinder.com.
Dog tags can be bought at the Portage County site, www.co.portage.oh.us or call 330-297-3560.
Contact reporter Eileen McClory at email@example.com or @Eileen_McClory.