September 12, 2009


C’ville, city urge owners to license dogs

C’ville hopes licensing push will help town update its figures for number of licensed canines

DogsBob Ellis/staff photographer
Jean Minella takes her dog, Gus, for his daily afternoon walk along Church Street Thursday. There are approximately 1,000 licensed dogs, including Gus, in the city and an estimated 2,800 that are unlicensed. The city and Cortlandville are making a push to have dog owners license their pets as required by state law and renew licenses, which must be done annually.

Staff Reporter

Municipal officials want dog owners in the town of Cortlandville, village of McGraw and the city of Cortland to license their canine companions.
Karen Snyder, Cortlandville’s town clerk, said the town has not counted the canines within its boundaries for 25 years and needs pet owners’ help to do so.
“The typical dog owner doesn’t know to renew his license every year,” Snyder said.
The numbered metal tag worn around the dog’s neck stays with the animal for life, but its paper license must be renewed annually, she said. Cortlandville and McGraw, she added, contain a total of 1,020 licensed dogs.
The state Department of Agriculture and Markets, which oversees New York’s licensing program, estimates that 800 dogs in those two jurisdictions are unlicensed.
Cortlandville will not be hiring a professional census taker, but by getting the word out through mailers and postings on the town Web site, Snyder hopes residents will voluntarily license their dogs. She does not see the effort as a big generator of revenue, but rather as a way to get dog owners to pay for the town’s dog control program.
“Of course every little bit helps — we’re doing this to shift the burden to dog owners,” Snyder said.
Cortlandville collected $11,515 in dog license fees in 2008, but Snyder said the license fees “would never offset” the costs of the town’s contract with the SPCA. The $38,000 SPCA contract, which the town shares with the village of McGraw, covers population control of all animals, in addition to the licensing, identification and control of dogs.
“Even if we had all the dogs in Cortlandville licensed we’d never meet the SPCA contract. But the burden should be divided more equitably and fairly.”
It’s a similar story in Cortland, said Deputy City Clerk Sherrie Massmann, even though the city does not plan to conduct a formal dog count at this time.
“We’re trying to encourage people to get licenses by trying to piggyback on Cortlandville’s effort,” Massmann said. “We just hope that people in the city would see those notices and come in.”
While approximately 1,000 dogs are licensed in Cortland, Massmann said that, according to the state Department of Agriculture and Markets formula, there could be almost 2,800 unlicensed dogs in the city. Cortland has not done a dog census in “well over 10 years,” she said.
The 2009 city contract with the SPCA for dog services is $27,500, and the city estimates $7,500 in dog licensing revenue for the year.
State law requires every dog “owned or harbored” within New York state, with a few minor exceptions, for longer than 30 days to be licensed.
State licensing fees are: $2.50 for spayed and neutered dogs and $10.50 for unspayed/unneutered dogs, $3 of which goes to the state Animal Population Control Program. Municipalities may tack on a local fee of up to $10; Cortlandville and Cortland add $7.50 per dog in both categories.
There is no charge to license guide, war, hearing, police, search, service, detection or therapy dogs.
Any local fees collected remain at the municipal level to pay for dog control services and otherwise enforce state dog control laws. Collected state fees are divided between the licensing municipality (53 percent), the county (30 percent) and the state Agriculture and Markets department (17 percent). From the latter pool, 10 cents for each license issued goes to Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine to fund dog disease studies.
Massmann said dog control officers have a much easier time locating a stray dog’s owner if the animal is licensed. More importantly, owners must provide current proof of rabies vaccination for their animals in order to license their dogs, she said.
“That’s the number one requirement for a licensing,” Massmann said. “This protects the citizenry from unvaccinated dogs.”
More information is available online at and


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