Portage County Dog Warden Dave McIntyre is looking for three summer employees willing to wear out a lot of shoe leather.
Each year the dog warden’s office targets various areas of the county, knocking on doors to see if residents have a dog. If they do but have not purchased a license for that pet, the canvassers will offer one for $15 plus a $15 late fee.
(The late fee is because annual license applications are due by Jan. 31. “The late fee comes from the State of Ohio. It’s not us,” McIntyre said.)
This summer they’ll be making their way through Ravenna and Ravenna Township. Canvassers crosscheck each address with a state database, and they don’t stop at residences that have a license, Chief Deputy Jerrod Hankins said.
The dog warden’s office does not confiscate pets whose owners decline to purchase licenses. At worst, they would eventually be cited, which would wind up being more expensive than purchasing a dog tag, McIntyre said.
Having the canvassers start their work in Ravenna and Ravenna Township is no slur on those communities, Hankins said.
“We try to rotate all the townships and cities. It’s been almost five years since we’ve canvassed there. Kent was done recently, Aurora was done recently,” he said.
Dogs end up in the county shelter mostly because they’ve been found roaming the streets, lost or abandoned. Most don’t have licenses, making it difficult for shelter workers to find their owners.
If there is room, the shelter accepts animals surrendered by their owners, “which happens more often than you would think,” Hankins said.
He doesn’t like to euthanize animals — the shelter has a 6% kill rate, lower than some rescue organizations, he said — but it does happen if the animals become vicious or sick with a highly contagious and potentially deadly disease, such as parvo, canine influenza, or distemper.
The dog warden’s office puts unclaimed animals up for adoption. Some dogs stay at the kennel for less than a week; others have called the kennel home for over a year before finding their forever homes, Hankins said.
For $12 an hour, canvassers will work from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays from May 9 to Sept. 16, except when it’s raining. If no one is home, they will leave a notice, and owners can contact the dog warden’s office to get their tags.
“I would much rather do that than to cite people in court for not having a dog license,” he said.
If time allows, the canvassers will expand beyond Ravenna. Anyone interested in serving as a canvasser may download an application here or pick one up at the county administration building, 449 S. Meridian St. in Ravenna on the seventh floor.