Dog license deadline fast approaching


In 2007, 10,000 lost or stray dogs were picked up or brought to the Franklin County Dog Shelter, and most of those were unlicensed.

According to Lisa Wahoff, Director of Franklin County Animal Care and Control, “About 90 percent of the stray dogs we received at the shelter last year came in with absolutely no license or identification to help us find their owners. If you own a dog, you need to buy a license, period.” 

Reducing the number of unlicensed dogs in the county could significantly reduce the number of unclaimed stray dogs at the space-challenged shelter. 

“It’s heartbreaking when no one comes to claim a lost dog. They come in wearing an L.L. Bean collar, but no license or ID tag,” says Wahoff.

Unclaimed strays with no tags are evaluated for possible adoption after just three days, the legally mandated holding period. There simply isn’t room to hold unclaimed dogs indefinitely. “We do not euthanize adoptable dogs,” Wahoff emphasized. Unclaimed dogs are evaluated physically and behaviorally, spayed or neutered and put up for adoption.  Others may go to rescue groups or foster homes.

In addition to breaking the law, unlicensed dogs create a serious financial impact on the operation of the shelter. The dog shelter relies on fees generated annually by license sales to pay for the many services provided to the community, including lost dog and adoption services. Owners with unlicensed dogs are not contributing their fair share toward funding the shelter, and all those unclaimed unlicensed dogs cost the county money to feed, house, provide medical treatment for and adopt out.

The Department of Animal Care and Control has distributed posters reminding people it’s time to buy their license, and license tag forms to all veterinarians, pet supply stores, doggie daycares, grooming salons, boarding kennels and dog parks in the county. Our goal is educating the public about importance of licensing,” says Wahoff. 

“We hope this will remind people to purchase a license for their dog and make sure it’s attached to the dog’s collar at all times,“  said Wahoff. There are approximately 100,000 legally licensed dogs in the county.  Wahoff estimates that there are potentially 90,000 more unlicensed dogs in Franklin County. “That’s about one out of every two dogs. If we can reduce that number it will have a significant impact on the number of homeless dogs we have to find new homes for.”

Lost dogs wearing a current dog license may never actually visit the shelter at all.  Animal Control officers responding to reports of stray dogs can simply call in the tag number to look up the owner’s name and address and return the dog directly to the owner, saving the county the trouble and expense of housing the dog at the shelter. 

Private citizens who find a dog can also look up the owner of any licensed dog online at or by calling the Department of Animal Control. 

Dog licenses must be renewed annually by Jan. 31. All dogs over three months old are required to be licensed. Dogs in Franklin County must first be immunized against rabies by a licensed veterinarian before a license can be purchased. The license fee is $24 per dog, however fees are discounted to $12 for dogs who have been spayed or neutered.

After Jan. 31 late fees apply and fees double for all dogs owned more than 30 days.

Licenses can be purchased at the Franklin County Auditor’s office in the county courthouse on Front Street, at the Franklin County Dog Shelter, the Capital Area Humane Society, and at various other locations. Licenses may also be renewed on-line by clicking on the link on their Web site:

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