Local dog license canvassing efforts set to begin in May
April 28, 2013 4:00 AM

Man’s best friend a part of the family? Dog license canvassing in Pennsylvania will begin May 21, meaning that local dog owners need to have their pet properly licensed.

There are many reasons a dog owner should license their pet, besides the fact that it is a Pennsylvania law.

“The most important reason for dog owners to have a license on their dog is in case it gets lost,” said Brad Shields, regional supervisor of the Pennsylvania dog law enforcement office. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture states that in the case of a dog being lost, a current license is the fastest way to get the pet back.

Shields said that dogs have been picked up as far away as other counties after being lost.

If a dog gets lost, Shields said, it can be more easily returned to its owner. Dogs that do not appear to have an owner will be sent to an animal shelter.

Under state law, dogs over the age of 3 months must be licensed by Jan. 1 of each year. The period of the license then runs through Dec. 31, when it will need to be renewed.

Shields said that statewide law enforcement will be getting stronger. In recent years, the rate of licensed dogs has been dropping. License canvassing begins May 21.

So what happens if a dog is found unlicensed?

“If a dog warden stops at a residence and they don’t have a license they issue a citation,” Shields said.

Fines, according to Shields, can range from $50 to $300, in addition to court costs.

“The exact amount of the citation the dog law doesn’t control,” Shields said, “it’s controlled by the district magistrate.”

Court costs, Shields said, can range from about $120 to $150.

Following state law, a dog warden cannot enter a home to retrieve an unlicensed dog without a warrant, but can be on the owners’ property.

“If someone has a no trespassing sign we can enter the premises, but under no circumstance can we enter a building without a warrant,” he said.

There are many ways to license your dog, Shields said, including visiting the main agent for dog law, the Indiana County treasurer, located in the courthouse at 825 Philadelphia St. In addition, pet owners can visit www.licenseyourdogpa.com to purchase their annual license, or sign up for a lifetime license for the pet.

A regular annual license for a dog costs $8, Shields said, while a license for senior-citizen dog owners are $6.

By applying for the license online, according to the website, a dog owner receives a free copy of the license for boarding use, an annual reminder to reapply for the license, and a free posting of a lost pet at www.palostdogs.com for as long as it’s needed to find your pet.

Lifetime dog licensing for a dog not spayed or neutered is $51.45, $31.45 for senior citizens, while lifetime licensing for a spayed or neutered dog is $31.45, $21.45 for senior citizens. Procedures for lifetime dog licensing can be found at www.countyofindiana.org/doglicense.

Licensing fees, Shields said, go to the dog law enforcement office. Shelters are reimbursed for the stray dogs they accept after an audit.

If a person knows of an unlicensed dog in the area, or is aware of a stray, a form can be submitted to the Department of Agriculture website for a dog warden to look into. In addition, complaints can be submitted for dog bites, dangerous dogs, rabies concerns and kennel concerns.

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