If residents don’t respond to a fine delivered by police, court action is taken. Taking it that far is unusual, Saunders said.
Statewide, residents are supposed to register their dogs by April 30. All it requires is a rabies vaccine. Many towns now offer residents the opportunity to relicense their dogs online. If that’s not easy enough, dog owners get an extra month’s grace period.
After that, clerks tighten the leash.
There are a lot of unlicensed dogs in Londonderry, Town Clerk Meg Seymour said, but no more than usual.
“We have more than 1,000 dogs whose licenses still need to be renewed,” Seymour said.
That number represents about 20 percent of the town’s canine population.
Fewer people are in the doghouse in Salem.
Between 400 and 500 of Salem’s 3,400 dogs in Salem haven’t been registered.
“Our animal control officer, Corie Bliss, really gets on people to get them in,” Town Clerk Susan Wall said. “We did more advertising this year and it really shows.”
Without an enthusiastic — or available — ACO, the burden falls to the clerk’s office. Just ask Plaistow Town Clerk MaryEllen Pelletier.
“There’s just so much paperwork involved for each dog,” Pelletier said. “It isn’t fair for all the people who did take the time to register their dogs.”
Plaistow sent out 344 warning letters at the beginning of the month. The town is now down to 118 dogs on its delinquent list, about the same as last year, Pelletier said.
Pelham goers a little easier on forgetful pet owners.
“If they come in now, it will be just $1 more than their registration fee,” Town Clerk Dottie Marsden said. “We fine $1 for every month they are late.”
Derry also imposes a $1 fine for each month dog owners are late. But if they drag their feet through the summer, a $25 fine kicks in Aug. 1.
“That’s when they start to ‘fess up,” Derry Town Clerk Denise Neale said.
Some people go to real extremes to avoid paying the registration fee.
Plaistow’s Pelletier has heard some real dog tales.
“We’ve had people say their dogs were gone,” she said. “But then we get the rabies certificate two years later and it’s the same breed, same name and not a puppy.”