04/01/2009: "Dog License Search"
By Milene Henley
It’s the middle of the night. You just found a wet, frightened dog outside your door. You take him in, dry him off, and check for a dog license. Fortunately, he has one. But he has no personal tag with an owner’s phone number. At that hour, you can’t take him to the shelter or even call the shelter. What do you do?
You can now call the dog’s owner directly, thanks to a new licensing program recently installed at the Auditor’s office. Go online to the County’s webpage to the Dog License page and type the dog's license number in the search field.
The “Dog License Search” page will allow you to enter the dog’s San Juan County license number. No year is necessary, because license numbers are continuous from year-to-year, rather than starting over again at zero each year. Click on “Search,” and you will be given the dog’s name, the owner’s phone numbers, and the dog’s veterinarian. If the dog has a picture on file, you will also see the dog’s picture. Call the dog’s owner, and you have a happy ending.
(Another middle-of-the-night option, if you don’t have access to the Internet, is to call the Sheriff’s department at 378-4151.)
The goal of all dog owners, if their dog is lost, is to get them back as soon as possible. This system will help with that.
The Animal Shelters in the County have access to even more information. By logging in to the “professional” version of the site, they can find the name and address of the owner in addition to phone numbers. They can also search for dogs by breed, color, or island, which will allow them to try to find the owners of, for example, a blue merle Australian Shepherd found on San Juan Island. Marsha Waunch, Orcas Animal Shelter Manager, has already used the new system. “It definitely expands the opportunity for owners who have gotten away from their dogs to be reunited with them,” says Waunch.
License numbers sold prior to 2008 are not in the system. But from 2008 on, every year will be available for search. The hope is that this system will allow lost dogs to be returned to their owners more quickly.
Another function of the new licensing system is the ability to include photos of licensed dogs. For an optional additional $5 fee, dog owners can include one or two pictures of their pets. When shelters search for the owners of a licensed dog who has lost its license, the ability to compare the real thing to a photo will be of great help.
One more new feature of the system is the ability to send reminder notices. Beginning in 2010, previously licensed dogs will receive reminder notices by mail or email. Joyce Myhr of the Lopez Animal Protection Society is very excited about that possibility. “That will be very helpful in reminding dog owners to renew their licenses, and in helping us to keep up-to-date records on licensed dogs.”
All dogs in San Juan County are required to be licensed. Dogs licensed after March 31 pay a $10 fee. In celebration of the new system, the Auditor is allowing dog owners 10 extra days to license without a penalty. License your dog by April 10, 2009, and pay no late fee. For information on how and where to license, call the Auditor’s Office at 378-2161.
(Milene Henley is the San Juan County Auditor)