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Westmoreland

Dog license, rabies vaccination canvassing in Westmoreland County begins Tuesday

Paul Peirce
| Saturday, March 31, 2018, 11:00 p.m.
State dog wardens discuss a case in Fayette County in 2014.
Steph Chambers | Trib Total Media
State dog wardens discuss a case in Fayette County in 2014.
Black lab laying in the grass with license and dog tag showing.
Getty Images/iStockphoto
Black lab laying in the grass with license and dog tag showing.

When state dog wardens fan out across Westmoreland County over the next two weeks to check whether more than 40,000 dogs have current licenses and rabies vaccinations, they won't choose communities haphazardly, according to Kristen Donmoyer of the Department of Agriculture.

“We work with county treasurers and focus on areas where, based on populations, there should be more dog licenses issued,” said Donmoyer, the director of the agency's dog law enforcement office.

“Also, we look at areas where we receive reports of dogs running loose or dog bites,” she said. “We track that information.”

In 2017, the department issued 60 citations in the county.

Jerome Shepler, the state dog warden assigned to Westmoreland County, said over the next two weeks he will be assisted by wardens from nine other Western Pennsylvania counties. Checks will begin Tuesday and continue the week of April 9.

“Two to 10 wardens work each day knocking on doors. They'll ask a resident to show proof of current vaccination and license,” Donmoyer said.

“Most residents are cooperative, but not all. If a person is uncooperative, the warden can't just barge in,” she said. “People can tell us to take a hike or get off their property.”

In those instances, the warden leaves a request for the homeowner to provide the required information by mail.

“They could be cited if they choose not to provide proof,” Donmoyer said.

If there's probable cause to believe a dog lives at the home, the warden could obtain a warrant. Donmoyer said that is rare.

Westmoreland County sold 40,618 licenses in 2017, including 37,806 senior or regular annual licenses and 2,812 lifetime licenses, the treasurer's office reported. The county retains $1 of the $6.50 license fee.

“(Dog licensing) is one of the most important things we do. Some people think of it as a dog tax, but it's not,” Donmoyer said. “It funds our department to do all the things that we do to protect the public and dogs.”

That includes ensuring the welfare of dogs and puppies in kennels, inspections of kennels, investigating dog bites and dogs running at large and regulating activities pertaining to dogs that are classified as dangerous.

“We do not want to have to cite people, but it's a last resort. And we actually check on proof of licensure and rabies vaccinations throughout the year,” Donmoyer said.

“The first thing our wardens ask when they check out a complaint during the year is to see proof of licensure and current vaccination.”

All dogs 3 months or older must be licensed by Jan. 1 each year.

The fee is $6.50 for each spayed or neutered dog and $8.50 for other dogs. Older adults and people with disabilities can purchase a license for $4.50 for spayed or neutered dogs and $6.50 for others.

Additionally, all dogs and nonferal cats 3 months and older must be vaccinated against rabies. Booster vaccinations must be administered periodically to maintain lifelong immunity.

Violators can be cited with a maximum fine of $300 per violation.

Licenses can be acquired 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the county treasurer's office at the courthouse in Greensburg or online at www.co.westmoreland.pa.us.

The treasurer's office telephone number is 724-830-3180.

Information is also available at www.licenseyourdogPA.com or by calling 717-787-3062.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2860, ppeirce@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ppeirce_trib.

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