Chicago cracking down on dog registration

May 10, 2012|By Leonor Vivanco, RedEye

Dog owners beware. Chicago is going to be cracking down on owners who fail to register their dogs with the city.

And that may include stings by the city's Animal Care and Control and the City Clerk's Office at dog-friendly spots in the city.

"One of the biggest complaints that we get from people is when they take their dog who is licensed to a beach or dog park and they see other dogs running around that are not licensed," said City Clerk Susana Mendoza at City Hall.

"So those are perfect opportunities for us to educate the public and continue to educate them but more importantly also to enforce the law. So we're looking forward to doing all of that very soon."

She didn't provide a set date for when enforcement would begin. An ordinance requires owners to register their dogs in a city where the estimated dog population is more than 400,000. If dog owners skirt the law, they could be slapped with ticket and fines ranging from $30 to $200.

Mendoza said dog owners have been informed and given fair warning to comply with the law. She said her office has tried to make registering dogs an easy task, specifically by getting an ordinance passed by the City Council to eliminate the $1 surcharge fee and creating the "Dog of Distinction" contest.

It costs $5 to register neutered or spayed dogs and $50 for unsterilized dogs. Residents can register the dogs online or at any City Clerk office location.

The "Dog of Distinction" has five canine finalists selected at random among all dogs registered in the city. But only one dog will get the title. Residents can vote online at through May 20 for any of the following contestants: Coco, a Chorkie mix; Lump, a German Shepherd; Margaret, an Affenpinscher; Trina, a German Shepherd; and Wilma, a chocolate Labrador.

The winning dog and owner will be announced May 24 and will get a custom-designed dog tag valued at $2,000, a TV ad appearance, a weekend stay and doggy tea at the Palmer House Hilton, a photo shoot at Urban Out Sitters and a feature in Chicagoland Tails magazine.

The contest was created this year to encourage dog owners to register their pets. So far, dog registration is up 122 percent.

As of the beginning of May, the city has almost 38,000 dogs registered, compared to nearly 17,000 this time last year, according to the City Clerk's Office. The current tally has even surpassed the number of dogs registered at the end of last year, which was 27,000.

"When I saw only 27,000 of them were registered when I came in as clerk, that just seems ridiculous. Because from a public health perspective, it's a big issue," Mendoza said.

All dogs registered must have a current rabies vaccination.

Mendoza would like to see the number of dogs registered increase and enforcement is the next step.

"Are people going to be stopped in the street? I wouldn't advocate for that. What I would advocate for is potentially educating the person who is responsibly walking their dog as to whether they're aware of this or not, get their information and then make sure they do follow up with registration," she said. "At the same time, when people are blatantly flouting the law, then we will crack down the hammer and make sure they are in compliance." | @lvivanco

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