La Habra Police Pet Detective: Why pets should be licensed

By Shawn Price

This month’s Pet Detective column involves one of the most commonly asked questions —or, if you like, one of the most common gripes of pet owners.

La Habra Police Department’s Senior Animal Control Officer, Ian Daugherty, deals with thousands of pets each year, often in bad situations, so it’s easy for Daugherty to lay out why every pet owner should license their pet. But if you are still unsure, or resistant to getting a license, let Daugherty explain.

Question: Why do I have to license my pet if it never gets out?

Daugherty: I usually start off by saying most dogs usually don’t, but most of the animals I pick up hadn’t either. There is always a first time.

There are many reasons why a dog may get out, but whatever the reason, having a dog license attached to your pet’s collar means that soon the two of you will be reunited, preferably prior to the animal being taken to the shelter.

The second response I give is that it’s required by state law, an answer most people don’t know about. Ever wonder why a rabies certificate is required to license your dog? Well, that’s because all of California’s 58 counties have been declared official rabies areas.

The rabies virus is one of the most deadly viruses known to man, with a 99.9 percent fatality rate once the symptoms of the virus appear in the subject. Compare that with the Ebola virus, which has a 90 percent fatality rate, and you can see why the rabies virus is taken so seriously. Dogs were the most common transmitter of the virus to humans in the past (there are roughly 4-5 million dog bites per year in the United States) but any warm-blooded animal can carry the virus. With the success of California’s licensing program, it has been a very long time since a dog or domestic animal has tested positive for the virus.

The rabies we see now is primarily in the California brown bat and the striped skunk, with a majority of those particular animals testing positive in Northern California. With many people keeping their animals outside and especially at night where they can come into contact with wildlife, it is important to have all your animals vaccinated for the rabies virus and the continued reason California is constantly monitoring and testing for this deadly virus.

Please send any questions you might have about animals in your home or community to Behind the Badge’s Facebook page: facebook.com/OCBehindTheBadge/