Wednesday, Jun 29, 2016
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OHIO LAW CHANGES

Dog owners have new license options

Pets can get lifetime registration

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Dog advocate Jean Keating, shown with, from left, Wendy, 3, Milo, 4, and Chief, 8 months, says new state rules provide little incentive to get a lifetime license.

The Blade/Katie Rausch
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COLUMBUS — When the time comes for Toledo dog advocate Jean Keating to renew the licenses for her three dogs after Dec. 1, she will have a menu of choices for the first time as to how long the license she buys will remain valid.

But she sees no advantage in taking advantage of new multiyear registrations that Ohio recently authorized because there is little financial incentive to do so.

“They should give people a financial break for doing it,” the co-founder of the Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates said. “Dogs don’t enjoy the lengthy lives we do. If I adopt a dog that’s 4 or 5, I’ll probably just take my chances [with an annual license].”

The $62 billion, two-year budget that went into effect on July 1 contained several provisions dealing with dog-enforcement law. They include a provision scrapping the one-size-fits-all mandate to renew dog licenses every year.

Instead, dog owners will have the options of licenses for a single year, three years, or the dog’s lifetime.

In Lucas County, those licenses would cost $25, $75, and $250, respectively. An owner who buys the permanent registration would be betting that his dog would live at least a decade to come out ahead financially.

All dogs older than 3 months must be licensed between Dec. 1 and Jan. 31. In Lucas County, licenses are available through the dog warden, auditor’s office, the Internet, and pet-supply retailers.

Lucas County Dog Warden Julie Lyle said she believes the changes will provide more convenience for dog owners, but she worries that it could lead to outdated information.

“We use the dog licenses to reunite the dogs with their owners,” she said. “If you bought a license five years ago, is your information still current? We’re talking about sending out something. Instead of a license renewal reminder, we’ll ask them to sign off that their information is still current.”

The multiple options also could complicate budgeting for the dog warden’s office.

“If we get a lot of people taking the three-year or permanent licenses, we could not consider spending it all in the first year, because the numbers will probably be down the following year,” Ms. Lyle said. “So far, our licenses have been pretty predictable. They’ve thrown a wrench in it.”

Dog licenses are also transferable from county to county, so it’s possible that one county could receive the upfront money for a permanent license and then the owner could later move the dog to another county.

The budget also eliminated the current requirement that counties pick a different color for each year’s license. Ms. Lyle said the county will now select a new color based on the expected expiration date of a license.

Other changes included in the budget would:

● Allow county commissioners to appoint the sheriff to enforce dog and animal cruelty laws in lieu of a dog warden.

● Increase the penalty for negligent acts of animal cruelty by owners or employees of animal rescue and kennels to a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail, for a first-time offense.

● Increase the penalty for intentional acts of animal cruelty by owners or employees of a kennel to a fifth-degree felony, punishable by 6 to 12 months in jail and a fine of $2,500, for each offense.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.

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