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Dog Licenses — It’s the Law!

This afternoon at a local Starbuck’s, there was a flyer, with picture, posted on the community bulletin board: Missing.  Murray.  Terrier Mix.  Last seen near Oracle and First.  Four days had passed since this last sighting.  Last week, a similar flyer was taped to a front door of Eller College.  Missing.  Champ.  Champ looked like some kind of Boxer mix.  This morning, the flyer was gone.  What became of Champ?  I have found more than a handful of dogs by the roadside and coaxed them into my car.  All but one had a collar with tags, which made reuniting them with their guardians easy.  One, with no tags, still made it back to her home – with a little luck or a small miracle, depending on how you look at it.  The grim statistic is that 9 out of 10 dogs who are found without any identification (tag or microship) are never reunited with their families. Provisions of Chapter 6.04 require all dogs three months of age or older to have a current Pima County license affixed to a collar and worn at all times.  To obtain the license, the dog must have a current rabies vaccination, administered by a licensed veterinarian. Anyone who has a companion animal is likely to wax poetic if you ask her about her non-human family member.  Yet, one of the most traditional forms of regulation when it comes to domesticated animals — licensing — remains unpopular with guardians to the point of being violated by the majority.  During a recent look by Oro Valley (Pima County) into licensing compliance among its residents, it was estimated that the compliance rate is as low as 25%.  The regulation of dog licensing has several benefits, both to the dog guardian and to the general community.  For the dog guardian, licensing protects an “owner” interest in his “property” and the tag can be essential to reuniting a lost dog with his family.  More generally there is a public health interest, benefiting those with dogs and other community members alike: licenses and the yearly renewals require up-to-date rabies vaccinations.  Also, licensing fees often are used towards funding a community’s animal control program, which in addition to rescuing strays focuses on other public safety measures.  For Tucsonans, animal control takes care of everything from lost pups and kittens to that rattlesnake that somehow made it into the garage. In addition to these reasons, there is another major benefit to this regulation.  Especially in cities like Tucson, where the local animal control has yet to adopt a no-kill program, there is only a brief window of time for a captured...

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