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Dog tag; we're it!

Effective Jan. 1, New York State will have no hand in the issuing of dog licenses. In addition, its statewide dog database will no longer exist.

"We managed before without the statewide database," Skaneateles Town Clerk Janet Aaron said of the upcoming switch back to the town's controlling all dog licensing.

The changes come with a new law, signed June 22 by Governor Patterson that moves the remaining dog licensing tasks from the Department of Agriculture and Markets to municipalities. Town clerks first heard rumblings of the law at a statewide clerk's conference last April and have been planning for the turnover, as an association, ever since. Some feel the change was long overdue.

"The state's participation was minimal at best," said Marcellus Town Clerk Karen Pollard. "All the state did was send out the renewal form and provide the tags."

It's been the case that if you needed a license for your dog - state law requires all dogs be licensed after four months - you would go to the town clerk. The clerk would set you up with the paperwork, then the state was responsible for sending out the first renewal reminder and form; license renewal is typically due yearly. According to Elbridge Town Clerk Deb Stapleton, the state recently fell behind on this responsibility.

Stapleton said the Department of Agriculture and Markets sent her an e-mail apologizing for sending out 100,000 license renewal forms past the Sept. 30 renewal date. This e-mail came after she sent out reminders to dog owners who were about three weeks late on their renewal.

"Most people rely on that three-part form to remind them," she said.

The loss of the statewide registry will affect different municipalities in different ways, often depending on their size.

Many towns have their own database already in place. Clerks for smaller towns like Skaneateles, Marcellus and Elbridge will not necessarily miss the state's service.

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