Scituate town officials are reminding residents to license their dogs for the current year before a late-licensing fee sets in on Oct. 1.
Licenses for this year became available on May 15, and already 1,208 people in town have submitted licensing forms.
Yet according to Bernice Brown, Scituate’s Town Clerk, there are an estimated 300 people who have yet to turn in their licenses, a requirement by law and a safety measure for the town.
“We probably have not advanced a whole lot [with getting people to comply with the bylaw]. I’d like to say we have, but I don’t think so. We'll still be making our push through October and putting it on the website again. It’s just a lot to do…but we will continue our efforts,” Brown said.
Although taxing, town officials are sticking with the initiative. Not only is it a revenue source for the town, but the requirement, mandated by both state and local law, is a safety issue.
“It’s very important to see if a dog is lost or hurt and no one can identify the owner,” Brown said. “The dogs all have tags with identification that correspond with ownership, so someone can call the dog officer at any time and identify the owner of the dog.”
Licensing costs $15 for a male or female dog, and $10 for a spayed or neutered male or female dog. Proof of spaying or neutering is required for a license, as is proof of current rabies vaccination. Starting in October, fees for the licenses will double.
“We have to have proof that the dog has a current rabies vaccination, so we keep track of those. We also have to know if the dog has been neutered or spayed, as it’s in the best interest of the community, so they aren’t continually having puppies,” Brown said.
Although every penny counts for many families in Scituate, licensing a dog in the town truly isn’t an option, Brown said.
“We understand money is tight for people, and sometimes it’s a matter of forgetting or choosing what to spend your money on. But it’s not a choice in terms of avoiding by law. The dogs need to be licensed, and it’s a public health issue,” she said.
As the town clerk receives records from local veterinarians of vaccinated dogs, there is a continual list of who owns a dog in town. Calling residents who haven't obtained licenses is an effort for employees in the Town Clerk's Office.
Licensing is available at the Town Clerk’s Office during regular business hours. But a mail-in application form is also available online. Residents are asked to complete the form as directed and enclose it in an envelope marked DOG LICENSE.
The Clerk’s office also needs to know of families who no longer have a dog. Brown requested that residents call the Clerk’s Office at 781-545-8743 to relay that information.