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DOG LICENSE FIGURES RISE IN CRACKDOWN

Glance at license ledgers in City Hall and you might think Buffalo is going to the dogs.

The city shattered an autumn record by issuing 2,081 dog licenses in 30 days.

The figure includes more than 1,230 new licenses, along with renewals. But this doesn't mean there has been a flood of puppy adoptions.

"One guy got a license for his 12-year-old dog that never had a license before," chuckled Ronald Conrad, an enforcement supervisor.

The pooch received his first license at age 61 -- in dog years.

Chalk it up to Buffalo's new crackdown on unlicensed dogs, which will soon end its first phase.

So far, six enforcement officers have made contact with more than 3,100 residents. They've issued nearly 600 warnings, giving dog owners 10 days to get licenses or face fines. Only 11 dog owners have been issued summonses in the latest offensive.

"We don't like giving out summonses," said newly appointed City Clerk Gerald Chwalinski. "Our goal is to get the dogs licensed."

The $25,432 in extra revenue the blitz has produced for the city is not the main motive, officials insisted. Depending on whose estimates you believe, Buffalo is home to anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 unlicensed dogs. The problem raises safety and quality-of-life issues, with unlicensed dogs often being the targets of complaints about aggressive and unruly animals.

Officials also point out that licenses are important safeguards for ensuring that dogs receive rabies shots.

Crews have gone door-to-door in six Council districts and will canvas the three remaining districts over the next two weeks. Chwalinski said most people have been cooperative.

Some new components may soon be added to the enforcement effort:

The Common Council Tuesday endorsed a new law that would require the spaying and neutering of all dogs five months or older that are seized by animal control officers.

Chwalinski is recommending that a new computer software system be installed to make it easier to track enforcement activities. The new system would be tied into an existing licensing computer program and linked to activities at the city animal shelter, Chwalinski said.

be-mail: bmeyer@buffnews.com

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