Our dogs, our responsibilities

An ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure

We derive a great deal of pleasure and companionship from our dogs; however, we do have responsibilities to them and to our neighbors. At the top of the list of these responsibilities is adherence to the various statutes imposed by the government.

There is a state leash law that requires that dogs be under reasonable control at all times. Many of us are lax in complying with this law because we think the dog will stay in the yard and will not be a problem. This is not necessarily true the well-trained dog may become otherwise if animals or people invade his space.

Without a hard fence or other physical control such as a leash, a crate, or a kennel run, the dog will not be under reasonable physical control. The electronic fence concept, albeit a clever idea, doesn't do the job all of the time. Dogs can and do penetrate the perimeter. Other dogs, animals, and people come and go at will through the electronic boundary.

Barking dogs are the responsibility of the owner as well. Many townships, cities, and villages have ordinances to control nuisance dogs, so if barking is persistent and offensive, it should be reported to the local police department for investigation.

An irritation to dog owners and non-dog owners alike is the mess left behind by wandering dogs. Responsible owners clean up after their dogs.

Laws also require that dogs be licensed and immunized against rabies. License renewal period is December 1-January 20 in most counties, with a penalty assessed for late renewal. Clermont County Commissioners declared an emergency this year and extended the renewal period for the full year without penalty. (New licenses must be purchased within 30 days of purchase of a dog; puppies must be licensed by three months of age.)

The old axiom "an ounce of prevention . . . " certainly applies to dog ownership. If you do not control your dog and he is picked up by the dog warden, the fine per offense includes court costs and perhaps a license fee and penalty and board charges at the animal shelter -- which adds up to more than $100 in most counties. A more serious consequence is the harm that could come to your dog -- your pet -- if it is not under your responsible care.

Thanks to Dianne Gray, former chief dog warden of Clermont County, for her assistance with this information. -- PH.

Pat Hairston

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