Many area pooches are without dog tags

Although more than 11,500 dog tags were issued in Washington County in 2012, dog warden Kelly Schubert said most of the canines she encounters are lacking the identifying item.

“More often do I run into an untagged dog than I run into a tagged dog,” she said.

County residents have a chance to change that at a reduced rate this month. Dog tags are being sold by the county for $16 through Jan. 31. After that date, the price rises to $32 and residents whose pooches aren’t tagged can be subject to a $150 fine.

“It’s a minor misdemeanor if you don’t license your dog,” Schubert said.

That might not be the only expense associated with not licensing a dog.

“If I pick up a dog and it has a license, I can look up the license and take it home instead of taking it to the Humane Society,” Schubert said.

Once the animal is at the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley shelter on Mount Tom Road, the owner would have to pay a reclamation fee to get it back, likely be cited for failing to register their dog and still have to buy the tag – for $32.

That’s if their dog is still there.

Shelter manager Steve Herron said state law requires dogs to be put up for adoption once they’ve been at the shelter for three days without being claimed.

The shelter is always in a crunch for space, although that will be alleviated somewhat this week when 32 dogs are taken by rescue operations or adopted, Herron said. Some of those animals could have an owner already, but many people don’t think to check the shelter if their dog goes missing, he said.

The simplest way to deal with it is to license the dog, Herron said.

“We had one come in last night (with a tag), so within an hour-and-a-half process, it was back home,” he said.

Dog tags are on sale during regular business hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at the Washington County Auditor’s Office on the second floor of the courthouse at Second and Putnam streets in Marietta. They can also be purchased year-round at the Humane Society shelter.

In addition, tags are being sold at various locations around the county for the rest of the month.

Kennel tags are $80 for five dogs, with a $1 fee per additional tag. The price goes to $160 after Jan. 31.

A dog’s tags must be renewed each year.