Kern County starts dog license program

Kern County starts dog license program »Play Video
A new project aims to get more Kern County people to license their dogs. Teams have started going door-to-door hoping to convince more owners to follow the law.

The pilot project started in late January, and County Animal Control Director Guy Shaw said so far the rate of dog licensing is surprisingly low.

"At the houses where we could knock on the door and get a response, we found about 40-50 percent not licensed," Shaw said.

The city of Bakersfield launched a similar program last year.

The county wants to educate owners that they must get dogs licensed and also help them do that. The pilot project is called "PEET" for public education and enforcement team, and pairs of animal control officers and workers are hitting county areas, especially areas where public pet clinics are set to be held.

Last week, animal control officer Kristen England headed through a neighborhood at Belle Terrace and Olive Street. It was just ahead of a clinic to be held over the weekend at Beale Park.

England said county rules require owners to get dogs licensed.

"Every dog in the county has to have a license, so that if the dog's not spayed or neutered, the price increases," England said. "So we encourage that, too."

If a pet owner is home, the officers check on dog licenses. Where no one answers, they leave a packet of information about dog rules and schedules of clinics that are coming up.

The clinics also give owners a good way to get dogs the shots they need, especially rabies.

"There's a lot of owners that don't understand, don't know they need it, that it's required by law that they have a rabies shot," England said.

But, dog licenses are also a major focus. Shaw said that's important because it is the law. Also, if a dog gets loose, it can be returned to the owner if it has a license. Without that, the dog could end up in the animal shelter, and that adds to the overcrowding situation at the county's shelter.

Shaw said licensing dogs helps save money at the shelter, and if owners get licenses that brings in more funds to the county. According to the county's Web site, a dog license for one year costs $15. It's even less if the owner is a senior citizen. For any dog that is not spayed or neutered, the year's dog license costs $60.

Shaw said a report will go to the Kern County Board of Supervisors in early April on what the teams have found about the number of unlicensed dogs. Shaw said he will continue the PEET pilot project through April to get more data and hopefully get more dogs the shots and licenses they need.