In my office hangs a wonderful old sign. Printed on a piece of burlap, stained with age, it reads:
Town Clerk Michelle Schimel and Winston the Wonderdog.
Town Clerk's Notice
Owners or Harborers of Dogs
You are hereby notified that you are required by law to register in the Town Clerk's Office of this Town, on or before the 15th day of July 1916, any or all dogs or bitches over four months old, owned or harbored by you, and pay the license fee as fixed by law or be subject to the penalties as imposed by the Consolidated Laws of New York, Chapter 16, Article 7.
Signed and dated this 29th day of May, 1916,
Town of North Hempstead,
Thomas O'Connell, Town Clerk
Eighty five years later, my responsibility as Town Clerk is still to license the dogs of North Hempstead. In 1916 the law was devised by the New York State Legislature to protect the livestock of farmers. At a time when a lot of suburban towns were farmland, dog licensing was a way to ensure accountability on the part of dog owners if a dog attacked livestock.
Today, there are fewer farms in North Hempstead, but certainly more people. Dog licensing today still remains an important statute. Every licensing town must have a Dog Control Officer and a municipal shelter service, as the Dog Control Officer and shelter service enforces both the state and local dog laws and ordinances. Further, it is their responsibility to pick up lost and stray dogs and humanely care for them until they can be united with their owners.
Apply for a dog license at the town clerk's office at 200 Plandome Road, Manhasset, or by mail. You can down load the application on our town clerk website www.northhempstead.com. In addition to an application you must show a certificate of spay or neuter (if applicable) and proof of a rabies vaccination signed by a licensed veterinarian.
The dog is identified with a New York State identification tag. With a dog tag, the Dog Control Officer can contact the Department of Agriculture and Markets to trace the dog tag to the owner, if a lost dog is recovered.
A lifetime metal dog tag is issued when you first license your dog. And would only be replaced if you lose the tag.
You still must renew your license each year, however. A renewal notice is sent out by the Department of Agriculture and Markets in Albany.
If you forget to renew, as a service to town residents, the town sends out two letters to remind you to license your dog on an annual basis. Unfortunately within a period of five months after the renewal letter and follow-up letters are sent, you will receive a summons from the Dog Control Officer. (As per Article 7, section 119, the Dog Control Officer must institute action for violations of both state and local laws and having an unlicensed dog is a violation.)
The fee for a dog that is spayed or neutered is $7.
The fee for an unspayed or unneutered dog is $15.
Seniors who submit proof pay just $2.50 for spayed or neutered dogs, and $10.50 for an unspayed or unneutered dog.
1. Hey, it's the law.
2. A license protects your dog if he becomes lost, he can be returned safely back to you. The license number is entered into the Agriculture and Markets' centralized database.
3. If a person is bitten by a dog that has been licensed, it eliminates the need for that person to undergo a series of painful anti-rabies inoculations, as it will be on official record that the dog's vaccinations are up to date.
(I was recently made aware of a case of a child in North Hempstead bitten by an unlicensed dog and had to go through very painful injections.)
4. Who suffers when pet owners don't license their dogs? Dogs!
Licensing revenues are a major weapon against pet overpopulation, because it is a major source of funding for spay/neutering and shelter care.
Fees obtained by the municipality are used for controlling dogs and enforcing any rule or regulation including the spaying or neutering of dogs and subsidizing the dog shelter. The Town of North Hempstead has a great dog shelter! The fees also subsidize public humane education programs.
5. Money that goes to the state also allows for studies into the diseases of dogs and to research and study viruses that affect man and animals.
So if you love your dog, you'll license your dog. And remember, it's the law.