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Published: Wednesday, 8/29/2007

Licenses for dogs, kennels to increase in Lucas County

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Dog Warden Tom Skeldon, responding to a complaint of a loose dog, cited the owner of two dogs in East Toledo for not licensing them. Dog Warden Tom Skeldon, responding to a complaint of a loose dog, cited the owner of two dogs in East Toledo for not licensing them.
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After indicating they didn't want to do it, Lucas County commissioners voted yesterday to raise dog and kennel registration fees for 2008.

But to make up for that vote, the commissioners said they would continue to explore reinstituting a dog park in Lucas County.

Beginning in January, it will cost $25 to obtain a single dog license, and $125 for a kennel license - which is needed by those who have at least five dogs on their property for sale or for assistance on hunting trips.

It currently costs $20 for a dog license and $100 for a kennel license. The fee hikes will raise about $300,000 more a year in revenue annually.

The last time the county increased its dog license was from $15 to $20 in January, 2004.

Tom Skeldon, the Lucas County dog warden, said raising these fees will enable his office to continue to operate on its own, rather than with financial assistance from the county's general fund.

He said the increased revenue will go toward funding the operations of his office, which he said was a "lean" outfit and "the most aggressive" of its kind in Ohio.

"Otherwise all taxpayers would be supporting us, even if they don't have pets," Mr. Skeldon said.

Commissioners Pete Gerken and Ben Konop said it was their wish for the dog warden's office not to be supported through the general fund, and they also said there was much discussion this month about Mr. Skeldon's proposal to raise fees.

Prior to approving the rate hike, Mr. Konop said the vote was not a "rubber stamp," and the commissioners "didn't want to have to do this."

Mr. Konop also said the county needed to make a better effort to create a more sterile dog and cat population.

Included in license renewal applications sent to dog owners in Lucas County, Mr. Konop said, will be the option to donate to a nonprofit organization devoted to spaying and neutering stray dogs and cats.

"We're looking for proactive, common-sense ways" not to have to raise the licensing fees again, Mr. Konop said.

As sort of an apology for the jump in fees, the commissioners said they would move forward with plans to reopen a dog park in Lucas County.

Tina Skeldon Wozniak, the commissioners' president, said

she believed two acres are available at the Lucas County Recreation Center for a dog park "at very little cost to the community."

A dog park previously was operated at the county's recreation center, but it closed in 2002, officials said.

Mr. Gerken said a dog park was a way to say thank you to those who follow the law and obtain licenses for their dogs.

Mr. Skeldon said his office issues or renews one dog license for every seven Lucas County residents annually, or more than 60,000 licenses.

"This is a way to show all our legitimate dog owners that we respect them," Mr. Gerken said.

Contact Joe Vardon at:

jvardon@theblade.com or

419-410-5055.



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