LIMA — Dog confiscation is underway in Allen County.
Dog wardens, police officers and deputies are going door-to-door to the homes of dog owners who failed to purchase a license for the year. So far, 36 dogs have been seized from their owners.
Dog owners can purchase a license on the spot for the $18 plus an $18 penalty for a total of $36. The county sold 40 licenses to people on the spot in three outings, she said.
“It’s not that we’re out trying to get people’s dogs. We’re trying to get people to license their dogs,” Allen County Dog Warden Julie Shellhammer said.
It’s not something she said she’s enjoying. She’s just doing her job as the law requires, she said.
“People aren’t happy,” Shellhammer said. “We’re not out to get people.”
The decision has some people mobilizing online.
Cassandre Miller started a campaign on fundrazr.com to raise $5,000 for people who cannot purchase the licenses themselves. The effort raised $1,181 by 7 p.m. Tuesday.
"We believe this is morally wrong and unconstitutional," Miller wrote on the website. "We all are in hard times In this economy, but we need to help the families that cannot afford the tags to keep their pets."
Another online site, thepetitionsite.com, includes a petition sponsored by Brandi Borgia seeking 2,000 signatures to push the Allen County commissioners to end their request to impound unlicensed dogs. It had 1,135 signatures by 7 p.m. Tuesday.
All but six of the dogs have been reunited with their owners. Three others were seized Monday, and owners made plans to retrieve the dogs by Tuesday morning. The three others were surrendered during an April 30 raid in which the owner told authorities to just take the dogs. Those dogs entered a rescue program, Shellhammer said.
The enforcement action is the latest effort to get the hundreds of people who failed to purchase a dog license by the Jan. 31 deadline to do so. It’s also for safety following the high-profile attack by two dogs against a man on the Rotary Riverwalk near the YMCA that left the man in critical condition last month.
“Allen County Commissioners gave me a directive to impound instead of issuing a citation,” she said.
There have been 23 reported dog bites against people in the past two and a half months, Shellhammer said.
The effort actually starts with a phone call, trying to get people to buy a license. The next step is going to a home. Dog wardens can seize dogs in a yard or running loose. They cannot enter a house, and Shellhammer said that wouldn't happen without an owner’s permission.
“I’m sure a judge would not give a search warrant for not having a dog license,” she said.
That means some people can tell Shellhammer and others to leave. Most have been compliant, she said.
The law does not make exceptions for poor people who cannot afford a license, Shellhammer said.
“They’ve had five months to save up $18 to get a license,” she said.