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NY: $120 fine if dog is caught without NYC license tag on collar

Discussion in 'Dog Ordinances & Laws' started by Vicki, Aug 29, 2009.

  1. Vicki

    Vicki Administrator Administrator

    BY Amy Sacks
    Saturday, August 29th 2009, 4:00 AM


    Susan Cava no idea that having a dog license was the law when she was handed a $120 summons last Friday while walking Dexter, a pit bull whose collar was missing the red metal tag.

    "It wasn't even my dog!" said Cava, an upper East Side dog walker who was issued the summons on 94th St. and Lexington Ave., where NYPD officers were spot-checking many of the neighborhood dogs.

    The pricey ticket also requires a mandatory court date, which means Cava, who runs NYLovesDogs.com, will have to cancel that day's morning walks.
    New York State law requires that all dogs be licensed - and the New York City Health Code says that the tag must be attached to the dog's collar whenever the pet's in public.

    Having the tag but keeping it in your wallet or pocket (or, in my case, until this week when it was pinned to a bulletin board) doesn't suffice.
    Despite the law, Cava said only one of her 20 clients has a license on their dog - and knows it must be renewed every year.

    Dexter's owner, Owen Davis, believes the law is too vague. Like many dog owners, he mistakenly thought his pit bull's rabies tag was also a dog license.
    "The bottom line is that the city should have made it more clear that dogs are required to have a license and the public should have been given a heads up before cracking down," said Davis, who ordered a license for Dexter this week.

    A spokesperson for the NYPD said the city is not enforcing a crackdown, but did not provide the number of summonses issued this year.

    Still, the low number of licenses issued by the Health Department indicates many owners are confused.

    In 2008, the city Health Department issued 102,731 licenses, which includes renewals and new registrations. This year, only 48,758 licenses have been issued.

    That's a drop in the bucket for a city with an estimated 1 million dogs.
    Despite its new online registration option, which has simplified the application process, the Health Department does little to advertise the law.

    Last year, a dog license campaign in the subways - "You can spend $8.50 now or offer a $200 reward later" - helped boost the number of licenses issued, said Jane Hoffman, president of the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals, which helped create the campaign.

    A dog license is an excellent way to identify a lost dog, said Richard Gentles, spokesman for New York Animal Care & Control shelters. Unfortunately, most animals that land in a city shelter are not wearing tags.

    Dog license fees are also supposed to help fund spay and neuter surgery for pet owners on public assistance.

    The $11.50 application fee is discounted to $8.50 if your dog is spayed or neutered.

    The $3 surcharge for unaltered dogs goes to the Animal Population Control Fund, run by the state's Department of Agriculture and Markets.

    Its Web site, however, states the fund is out of money and has stopped issuing new vouchers to participating veterinarians who provide the low-cost surgery. (Only a handful of city veterinarians have signed on to the program.)
    Another revenue source is the little-known "Our Best Friends" custom license plate. Designed by artist Peter Max, $20 of the $25 annual fee goes to the low-cost spay and neuter fund. The plates can be ordered online at New York State Department of Motor Vehicles - NYS DMV - NYSDMV - Driver - Vehicle.

    To find more information or to order a dog license, go to New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and search for "dog license FAQ."

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