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Sanitary disposal of pet waste and leashing of pets seem to be allotted more jaw time than one of the most basic topics, licensing pets.
The City and Borough of Juneau requires that every canine be licensed annually. The Gastineau Human Society, which issues the licenses, is now gearing up for 2002 licensing. "We would like to be ready in November," said GHS executive director Chava Lee.
Lee estimates that there are 7,800 dogs in the city and borough, and only about 3,051 of them were licensed last year.
Licenses help re-unite lost dogs with their owners, Lee said. "I can't tell you how awful it is when we pickup a dog that has been hit by a car, and we don't know its owner. It puts a pall over the whole place."
GHS tries to return dogs to their owners immediately so the owners don't have to pay a $30 impound fee. However, if the dog cannot be identified, and the owners claim it subsequent to its official impounding, not only do they pay that fee but also the licensing fee. Licensing is $15 if the dog is spayed or neutered, or $35 if not spayed or neutered.
Licensing is a simple matter of dropping by GHS at 7705 Glacier Highway. The doors open at 9:30 a.m. seven days a week. The dog need not be present. However, the owner must show proof of a current rabies vaccination for each dog. The owner then receives a numbered metal tag which is attached to the dog's collar.
"There isn't a day goes by that we don't have a handful of calls from people who say, 'I found this dog,' " Lee said. If the dog has a license tag, it reassures the callers who have been handling the dog that they are protected from rabies.
"Most pet owners in Juneau are responsible, but, let's face it, dogs get out, even mine," said Lee, owner of a Labrador retriever.
All dogs that GHS puts up for adoption are identified by a microchip embedded in the fatty part of the neck. The number on the microchip is part of a national registry, so an Alaska dog that leaps out of a rental car in Nevada could easily be re-united with its owner after authorities "read" its microchip.
The money collected in licensing fees goes to support the Gastineau Humane Society and Animal Control. For more information, call 789-0260.