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City dog license system raises concerns by SPCA

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OGDENSBURG — The St. Lawrence Valley Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is warning dog owners that despite paying an annual licensing fee, their dogs may not be properly registered.

As a result, dogs that become lost might not be reunited with their owners.

In 2011, the state Department of Agriculture and Markets disbanded its database, turning over control of license registration to municipalities.

St. Lawrence Valley SPCA Board President Karen Cunningham said many dog owners may not have received new identification tags in the last two years for their dogs when they send in their license renewal fees.

“They are paying the $10, but there is no database that contains the previous state Agriculture and Markets tags,” Ms. Cunningham said. “I knew about the switch but I just assumed they were keeping the state database. They aren’t.”

To further complicate matters, Ms. Cunningham said, the city of Ogdensburg, for instance, is issuing stickers with new identification numbers to be placed onto old Agriculture and Market tags.

“They have many of the old tags, and I can only assume it’s a money issue,” she said. “But I relicensed one of my dogs on Aug. 7, and the sticker on his tag was unreadable and almost worn off by Aug. 12. This system is not working, and the stickers are not lasting more than a few days. Dog owners are not aware of how important the information on the sticker is to identifying their dog.”

City Clerk Kathleen A. Bouchard directed questions about the dog identification tags to City Manager John M. Pinkerton. Mr. Pinkerton was out of the office Friday and could not be reached for comment.

“The only solution is to get embossed tags,” Ms. Cunningham said. “If a sticker falls off or is damaged, chances are a dog owner is not going to go and get another one.”

In the meantime, Ms. Cunningham said, dog owners should consider purchasing ID tags for each dog’s collar that contains up-to-date telephone contacts, and microchipping their dogs and cats in case they should become separated from their collar.

Ms. Cunningham said she has approached the city manager about buying the embossed tags, but has received no word yet on if and when the tags will be purchased.

“They say it’s in the works,” she said.

Ms. Cunningham said the issues have not resulted in any lost dogs yet, but she said the potential for an unrecovered dog is real.

“If they take their dog out to Watertown, and the dog gets lost, they could not trace the owner,” she said. “Many dog owners who register their dogs here live in Florida. They are not going to be able to trace where that dog comes from. One of our jobs at the SPCA is recovery. We can’t do our jobs if dogs do not have proper ID.”

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