Despite months of reminders, many area canine lovers are finding themselves in the doghouse.
Some residents have received certified letters demanding they renew dog licenses.
Hundreds upon hundreds of dog owners all over the region are overdue on license renewals that were originally due by April 30.
Now, many towns are turning lists of late licenses over to their police departments for the next tier of tracking and, in some cases, court action.
Derry Animal Control Officer Marlene Bishop was avoiding the heat Wednesday as she worked through a list of dog owners 65 pages long, she said.
Bishop was 57 pages into the list, after starting with 1,346 people to contact. The first time through, she said, she only focused on homes with multiple dogs.
“I had one guy yell at me the other day. He said, ‘why didn’t I get an email?’” Bishop said. “They don’t remember to update their phone numbers or their emails with us.”
Most people who haven’t renewed yet say they’ve forgotten, Bishop said.
But not everyone is so truthful.
“It has happened that people call and say their dog is gone or no longer with them,” Hampstead Town Clerk Tricia Curran said.
Some town clerks, including Maryellen Pelletier of Plaistow and Denise Neale of Derry, said some dog owners call to say their pet died.
“Three years later, we’ll get a rabies notice. Then all of a sudden, it’s a miracle,” Pelletier said. “People lie all the time because they don’t think they should license the dogs.”
When that happens, the owners owe more than just the annual license fee, which can start at $6.50 and run a dollar higher in some towns.
Later fines include the $25 to $50 civil forfeiture, which can be issued starting June 20 and forces a resident to “forfeit” the cash. Then there could be efforts to recover costs for certified mail, Pelletier said.