County agency helps lost dogs get back home

License database, phone line and audio response unit reunite dogs and owners

People who find lost dogs in Ohio's Hamilton County area are a phone call away from finding the owner with the county's new 24-hour automated dog license information line. If the dog is wearing a 1996 blue Hamilton County license tag, the owner's name, address, and telephone number are only a phone call and seconds away from being identified.

Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes, whose office coordinates the dog license program in the county, welcomes callers to the information line and gives instructions for using the system to enter the dog's tag number. It's as easy as one-two -- press one if the number is all digits; press two if it begins with a "K" for kennel license.

The owner information is delivered by an electronic voice simulator that gives a clear telephone number but is a bit mushy and difficult to understand on names and addresses.

The system is specifically for reuniting lost dogs with their owners if the dog is wearing a current county license tag. Finders of unlicensed dogs and owners who lose a dog should still call the Hamilton County dog warden.

This information line is part of the auditor's plan to upgrade the dog license system in the county. Rhodes assumed control of the program from the Hamilton County SPCA in October 1995 and promoted licensing as an identification method to return lost dogs to their owners. His staff redesigned the license forms and cleaned up the list of dog breeds, colors, and coat types for easier identification of the animal. During the December 1-January 20 period for 1996 license renewals, the new program generated 44,000 licenses, about 11,000 more than the SPCA reported in the 1995 renewal period. The number of licensed dogs in the county may actually be much higher as owners renew their licenses past the deadline or license new dogs they have purchased or adopted.

Norma Bennett Woolf

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