SEABROOK — About 340 dog owners will soon be getting an unexpected visit from animal control officer Jeff Baillargeon, who will be handing them a summons for not licensing their dogs.
Selectmen signed the 31-page “dog warrant” at the meeting this week. With an average of 11 owners per page — some with as many as four dogs that are still unlicensed — that means Baillargeon will be very busy in coming days. So busy, others in the department are helping out with the paperwork, said dispatcher Jim Cawley.
Both the state of New Hampshire and town of Seabrook require that all dogs over the age of four months be licensed annually by April. One of the prerequisites is that dog owners have proof that their animals are current with their rabies vaccinations.
Dog licensing is one of the most effective ways to safeguard public and animal health. Requiring rabies inoculations protects not only dogs from getting the fatal disease after being bitten by a rabid wild animal, but also the humans dogs live with or come in contact with.
According to assistant town clerk Cheryl Bowen, her office staff sent out letters in March to all dog owners with licensed dogs in the system reminding them it was renewal time. Currently, 1,068 town residents have renewed their pets licenses, Bowen said, but she was surprised at the number of people who hadn’t.
“This year there are more than usual,” Bowen said yesterday. “We usually don’t get this many people who by June 1 haven’t renewed their licenses.”
The town didn’t take action immediately after the April deadline, she said, giving pet owners a month-long grace period to May 31, which has been the habit in Seabrook for years. But after checking with the state ordinance, Bowen learned state law isn’t as magnanimous.