County on trail of higher dog fees


(Updated at 11:30 a.m. 7-30) The Wood County Dog Shelter has been limping along with lame growth in its
budget for the past year.
The cost to fix or replace one broken down dog warden van is unaffordable, so seven cages to pick up
stray dogs are out of service.
“It cuts our ability by a third of picking up animals,” said Wood County Dog Warden Rodney Cook.
The tranquilizer guns are so old that when he tried to get them repaired, he was referred to an antique
gun dealer.
“They were here when I got here” 15 years ago, Cook said of the aging guns.
The dog shelter is nearly due a new roof, heating and air conditioning system – all expenses out of reach
right now.
And the current dog license price in Wood County – at $12 a year – is a bargain compared to others in the
region, as high as $25 in Lucas County.
“Our rate is the lowest one in Northwest Ohio right now,” Cook said, explaining it is only $1 a month “to
ensure your dog’s going to get back home to you” if it is picked up by the county dog warden’s staff.

But that low rate isn’t keeping up with growing expenses at the dog shelter.
Last year, Cook asked the county commissioners to consider raising the fees to $14 per dog. The $2 fee
increase would bring in an additional $40,000 or so.
The commissioners came within a whisker of approving the increase, but decided the dog shelter could get
by with the old rate for another year.
So now, Cook is again asking for the fee increase.
“Last year, we still had our head above water. We didn’t want to raise it if we didn’t have to.”
But this year is different, according to Cook.
“We’ve been scrimping and saving,” he said, noting that his office is one of a handful of county offices
that is self-sufficient. “This is probably going to be the last year we can hold our own.”
“With this slight increase, the dog shelter can keep up current daily operations without relying on the
general fund.”
The commissioners have until Aug. 31 to decide on the request for a rate hike, according to Commissioner
Tim Brown. Prior to making a decision, they hope to get input from county residents about the proposed
Though the dog warden has made a strong case for the rate hike, Brown said his one concern is that people
already strapped financially will abandon their pets rather than pay any increase.
“We certainly don’t want to see that,” he said.
But Cook is hopeful that won’t happen. During the past five years, the dog warden’s office has maintained
an aggressive door-to-door license program, making home visits to encourage dog owners to comply with
the law.
The result has been a steady increase in dog license purchases, from 17,587 in 2004 to 20,686 in 2009.

The office has also tried to make it more convenient for dog owners to purchase licenses by offering them
each year at various town halls and pet stores in the county.
Because of budget cuts, the part-time door-to-door position in unfilled.
The cost to replace the aging vehicle is estimated at $25,000, and the cost of two new tranquilizer guns
is put at $850.
The last increase in the local fee was in 2003, and prior to that in 1987. During that time, the dog
license fee increased by $4.

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