County commission approves dog tag increase

Published 9:53 am Friday, October 30, 2009

Lawrence County dog owners will pay a bit more to license their pet when dog tags go on sale in December.

Dog Warden Bill Click said the dog license and kennel fee increases are necessary to offset the escalating costs of keeping the dog pound open and pursuing loose dogs and owners who don’t buy their dog tags.

The Lawrence County Commission Thursday voted 2-1 to increase the dog tag fee from $10 to $12 and the kennel license from $50 to $60.

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Commissioners Les Boggs and Jason Stephens voted for the increase, Commissioner Doug Malone cast the one dissenting vote. He said while he knows the dog pound is well operated, he is concerned about increasing yet another fee.

“So many fees put on by the state, maybe this is one we can do without,” he said.

Click said the extra $2 per tag and $10 per kennel should bring approximately $15,000 additional dollars a year — money that will bring his office closer to being self-sufficient and less reliant on the county general fund.

Operating costs for the dog pound are a little more than $100,000 a year.

“I wouldn’t be asking for it if I didn’t need it, “Click said. “We’ve got vehicles that are wearing out. They’re getting old but we’re not buying new ones. We’re fixing the ones we’ve got. I had to put a motor in one last week. We’re making more gasoline purchases to run more often.”

Click said one reason he and his staff of three part-timers are on the road so much is to find people who have not paid their dog tags and force them to do what the law requires a dog owner to do.

“If people would go ahead and just buy their dog tag. But some of them wait until we come and knock on their door,” Click said.

This year 7,601 tags were sold. County officials attribute the increase to a mass mailing they conducted late last year.

Each county household received a letter advising of dog laws and the necessity of purchasing the requisite tag.

The effort yielded money and compliance, they said, from people who perhaps had never given the matter much thought and hence, never bought a tag for their pooch.

“If everyone who had a dog brought a tag the way they’re supposed to, we’d run a surplus,” Click said.

Another reason dog pound costs keeping escalating: more unwanted pets. This year, 2,303 dogs have been brought to the shelter. This does not include 444 cats.

Click said each year the number of strays and unwanted litters increases.