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Dog fees go way up in Wood County so owners can do duty

BOWLING GREEN - The cost of adopting a dog from the Wood County dog warden will nearly triple beginning Friday, but new pet owners will be given a $30 coupon to use toward spaying or neutering the animal.

Dog Warden Paula Hamman said yesterday that the policy is intended to make new dog owners more responsible and ensure they take care of their pets.

“We're trying to ensure the dogs are going to the veterinarian, that we are having them spayed and neutered so we are not having breeding going on of shelter dogs,” Ms. Hamman said. “My goal is to cut down the number of dogs we have in the shelter.”

Currently, it costs $19 to adopt a dog 5 months or younger and $23 to adopt a dog 6 months or older. The figures include a $10 license fee.

Beginning Friday, all adoptions will be $55, which will include the license fee and a $30 certificate redeemable at any veterinary clinic for spaying or neutering.

“I think, initially, it's going to hurt my adoption rate because people are going to say, `It used to be this much,' but I think people will become accustomed to it,” Ms. Hamman said.

She said other agencies charge comparable fees.

In Lucas County, it costs $45 to adopt a dog through the dog warden, and the dog is spayed or neutered before being adopted. A $15 license fee is included in the cost.

Dog Warden Tom Skeldon said some dogs that go to the shelter are spayed or neutered at no charge through Stautzenberger College's veterinary technician program. Others are sterilized by the Lucas County Humane Society under a recently approved agreement with that agency.

For several years, Mr. Skeldon's office gave $50 certificates to people who adopted dogs to have them spayed or neutered, but fewer than half actually took the dogs to a veterinarian to have the procedures done.

Hancock County had a similar experience.

“We started out with a voucher system, but found it wasn't effective,” said Suzie Ryan, director of operations for the Humane Society of Hancock County. “People weren't using their vouchers and weren't having the pets spayed or neutered, so we decided to take care of it for them.”

For the past four years, Hancock County has spayed or neutered dogs and cats that are to be adopted. The agency charges a $60 adoption fee for dogs, plus a $10 license fee. Still, Ms. Ryan praised Wood County's efforts to try to make sure the dogs that are adopted are spayed or neutered. “It's a first step,” she said.

Ms. Hamman said Wood County chose the voucher system because it couldn't find a veterinary clinic to perform the procedures at an affordable cost. Spaying or neutering can cost from $35 to $110, depending on the size of the dog, she said.

Those who adopt dogs in Wood County will sign a contract in which they agree to have the dog spayed or neutered. The dog warden would have the right to take the dog back if that obligation is not met, although, Ms. Hamman said, that isn't her goal. She also does not want to deter adoptions.

“I'm not raising the prices to make it more difficult for people to get a dog,” she said. “I'm looking out for the best interests of the dogs and wanting the dogs to get into a vet and be seen and go into a responsible home where they're loved and taken care of.”

Last year, 444 of the 1,221 dogs the Wood County dog warden took in were adopted, while 365 were returned to their owners and the rest were euthanized.

Ms. Hamman said the adoption rate has improved dramatically from 1987 when she came to the agency: Only about 10 percent of the dogs taken in were adopted then.

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