The Westmoreland County Treasurer’s Office issues nearly 41,000 dog licenses annually and, Chief Deputy Treasurer John Wian said, the number grows every year.
But not everyone who has dogs gets them licensed.
“So we definitely want to get the word out,” he said.
The office will be promoting dog licenses Sunday, Aug. 11, at the first annual Dog Days of Summer Event that it is co-sponsoring with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the dog licensing entity for the state.
“County Treasurer Jared Squires and I had been trying to put together some kind of community event to promote awareness of dog licenses and we came up with this idea,” Wian said.
The free event will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Pavilion 9 next to the dog park at Twin Lakes Park in Hempfield Township. Sponsors Petagogy, Unity Printing, Walmart and Sam’s Club will provide free hot dogs, chips and drinks.
There will be vendors representing dog products, and rescues and shelters will have information about what they do and the pets that they have available for adoption. Weather permitting, they might bring adoptable dogs for people to meet. No pets can be adopted at that time, but people can apply at the event to start an adoption process.
There are good reasons to have a dog licensed. For one thing, that’s the law. All dogs three months or older must be licensed by Jan. 1 of each year unless they have a lifetime license. Their owners can be fined up to $300 per violation, plus court costs.
The other good reason is that a lost dog wearing a collar with a license will be more quickly reunited with its owner than a dog that has no identification. It’s important to keep the contact information updated, too.
“We get those phone calls constantly,” Wian said about people trying to locate a lost dog’s owner. “When a dog is licensed, we can get the finder and the owner together as quickly as possible.”
The sale of licenses generates revenue for the state’s dog law enforcement that includes investigating humane issues and inspecting licensed kennels. There’s also a fund for people whose livestock have been damaged by wild dogs.
The groups attending represent just some of the rescues and shelters in Westmoreland County. That includes Action For Animals Humane Society in Derry Township, Animal Friends of Westmoreland in Youngwood, Humane Society of Westmoreland County in Greensburg, Pet Adoption League in Yukon, and All But Furgotten in North Huntingdon Township.
Vandergrift-based Tiny Cause has rescued around 200 pets since it was founded five years ago. It also promotes spay and neuter programs.
Husky Paws Rescue in Harrison City is a foster-based group that takes in huskies, and Pet Friends, another foster based group, is located in Irwin.
Hospaws, headquartered in the Greensburg area, cares for or takes in pets whose owners are sick, in the hospital, heading for a nursing home, in jail or in other circumstances where they need assistance with their pets. Hospaws volunteers also serve the surrounding counties.
Life Savers Animal Rescue Inc., based in Pittsburgh, has connections in Westmoreland County. The organization provides healthcare, rehabilitation and behavioral evaluations for dogs that they rescue from high-kill facilities and animal control agencies all over the country.
Cross Your Paws Rescue in North Huntingdon Township has saved nearly 500 dogs since the organization was founded in February 2018, and they have saved 300 so far this year. They are also a stray holding facility for the Department of Agriculture.
“We get dogs from humane situations, or strays, and some were taken to the vet to be euthanized as puppies,” founder Lisa Duffy said. “Someone dropped off a litter of puppies — some were partially blind and some were deaf. The veterinarian called us to ask if we would take them.”
They are “Aussiedoodle” mixes, and Duffy adopted one herself.
Cross Your Paws has a program called Forever Fosters for elderly or medically needy dogs that have a difficult time being adopted. The group provides funding for their veterinary care. Another program waives adoption fees for veterans.
Jerome Shepler, Pennsylvania’s dog warden for Westmoreland County, will be at the event with information and educational materials. And of course, the treasurer’s office will be selling dog licenses. They are $8.50 annually and $51.50 lifetime for a dog that’s not spayed or neutered, and $6.50 annually and $31.50 lifetime for a dog that’s spayed or neutered. There are discounts for senior citizens and handicapped individuals.
People whose dogs are currently licensed will receive renewal notices from the treasurer’s office in November. Newly acquired dogs and puppies can be licensed any time of the year.
Tattoos and microchips are also invaluable for getting lost dogs back home, but the dogs still need to have state-issued licenses.