No Dog License? You Could Lose Your Dog, And Worse

Wardens going door to door making sure all dogs are licensed and and vaccinated

There are lots of things that could happen if your dog isn't licensed and vaccinated against rabies. All of them are bad.

If your dog runs away, it could be lost forever without a license to help the person who finds your loving pet find you. And chances are your dog will join the 5000 other abandoned pets in animal shelters across the state:

According to WebMD, if your dog isn't vaccinated against rabies and it's exposed to the disease, it can become violently ill and have to be euthanized -- and could even spread the deadly virus to you or others in your family.

You could also face a fine of up to $300 per animal if you're caught without the proper license and vaccinations, and soon a state dog warden could be knocking on your door to make sure you're doing the right thing.

Half of the 2 million dogs in Pennsylvania are not licensed.

The PA Department of Agriculture announced that dog wardens will conduct dog license and rabies vaccination checks in 23 counties from now through June.

The program aims to raise awareness of the importance of up-to-date dog licenses, and rabies vaccinations for dogs and cats to the health and safety of Pennsylvania communities. "If your dog gets lost, a license is the best way to ensure that anyone who finds them knows where they live," Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said.

  • In April, wardens will canvass Centre, Chester, Franklin, Huntingdon, Lackawanna, Mercer, Perry, Pike, Schuylkill, and Westmoreland Counties.
  • In May, wardens will canvass Allegheny, Carbon, Cumberland, Dauphin, Erie, Franklin, Luzerne, Montgomery, Northumberland, Perry, Wayne, and York Counties.
  • Crawford County will be canvassed in June.

Pennsylvania law requires all dogs three months and older to be licensed by January 1 of each year. The fee is $6.50 for each spayed or neutered dog and $8.50 for other dogs. Older adults and persons with disabilities may purchase a license for $4.50 for spayed or neutered dogs, and $6.50 for others. Dog licenses are available through county treasurers' offices. Click here to find your treasurer or issuing agent.

All dogs and non-feral cats three months of age and older must also be vaccinated against rabies. Booster vaccinations must be administered periodically to maintain lifelong immunity.

Violators can be fined up to $300 per violation, plus court costs.

To protect yourself, if a dog warden comes to your home, he'll be driving a marked vehicle and wearing a uniform with "Pennsylvania Dog Law Enforcement Warden" in a keystone with a state seal. Wardens also wear a badge and have state ID. They'll request proof of licensure rabies vaccination. If you're not home they'll leave a written notice, and won't go into a home or building without your permission.

Click here for more information on licensing your dog.

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