County going door-to-door to enforce dog license law

A Kern County Dog License is pictured in the hand of Nick Cullen, the county's director of animal services Tuesday, July 3, 2018, in Bakersfield, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

Despite local and state laws requiring dog owners to carry a license for each dog in their household, the county Animal Services Department reports about three in four dog owners don't have one.

The county is doing door-to-door enforcement of this rule now in the Taft area in advance of a vaccination event July 14 at Ford City Park. Dog licenses are issued to owners who provide proof their animal has received its rabies shot.

Rabies is very rare in dogs in Kern County, something Animal Services Director Nick Cullen says is at least partially attributable to the law.

Animal services officers are canvassing neighborhoods now, looking for households with unlicensed pets. Families receive a "fix-it ticket," that requires them to have their animals vaccinated and licensed by a certain deadline. Vaccines are $10 and licenses are $15/year for dogs that fixed. The cost of the license rises to $60/year per dog if it's not been spayed or neutered. If the household fails to acquire the license by the deadline, they could face a higher fine in court.

Critics of the law who called the Eyewitness News Tip Line say the cost of the vaccine and license is too burdensome for low-income families.

"We always like to promote the idea that if you're going to own an animal, you have to make sure that you can provide for that animal," Cullen said. "And abiding by all state and local laws is part of providing for your animal."

People looking to get a break on the $60 license fee can request a voucher for a $20 spay/neuter procedure.

The county's mobile dog clinic is in a different location every month and officers prioritize enforcement of the law in that rotating area to promote attendance at the vaccine event.

July's event will be held at Ford City Park, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

There will be another clinic August 4 at Pioneer Park in east Bakersfield.

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