Laconia issues 780 warrants for those with unlicensed dogs
By RICK GREEN, Laconia Daily Sun
LACONIA — Fido and Rover beware.
Unlicensed dogs in Laconia are subject to a warrant approved by the City Council on Monday night.
City Clerk Mary Reynolds is sending out 780 letters today to residents, informing them that they owe a fine for not licensing their canines.
“State statute requires that the council issue a warrant for all dogs that are unlicensed and it comes with a $25 fine per dog,” she said. “Technically, they could seize dogs. That's what the warrant does, it allows us to impose a fine and seize a dog.”
However, no dog has actually been seized under such a warrant in Reynolds' 11 years with the city.
“The dog officer doesn't seize dogs unless they are running at large or are vicious,” Reynolds said.
People have until April 30 of each year to license their dogs. Proof of a rabies vaccination is required for a license, which costs $6.50 if a dog has been spayed or neutered. The charge for a dog that has not been altered is $9. If the dog owner is 65 or older, the licensing cost for a person's first dog is $2, and regular charges apply to additional dogs.
Dog owners have the entire month of May as a grace period if they haven't met the deadline. Overdue notices went out the first week of May.
“We got a lot of response from those,” Reynolds said. “A lot of people let us know their dogs were not here anymore. They were deceased, things like that. And we did get a lot of people who came in and licensed their dogs. But a lot of people ignored the notices.”
Ultimately, if people refuse to respond to notifications from the city, they may receive a visit from a Laconia animal control officer dog control. If a court summons has to be issued for failure to comply, a $50 charge can be levied.
“The dog officer chases down the habitual offenders,” Reynolds said.
The best bet is for people to license and re-license their pets on time.
“We don't want to impose fines any more than they want to pay them,” she said. “Our intention is not to take possession of anyone's animals, but to achieve compliance. We want to make sure dogs have their rabies shots and are all licensed. If a dog gets out and bites someone, we want documentation. And, we can find the owner of a lost dog with a license.”
Typically, about 25 percent of the people who get letters regarding unlicensed dogs say they no longer have the animal. Some letters are returned because the owner no longer lives at the recorded address.
People who don't renew a dog license with Laconia because they have moved or no longer have the animal, should notify the city so it can inactivate their account and so that a violation letter is not sent.
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