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Town ups dog licensing fees

The Town of Bethlehem on Wednesday, Nov. 10, adopted a new fee structure for the licensing of dogs that essentially doubles the rates currently in place.

Starting on Jan. 1 of next year, the fees will jump to $15 for the licensing of a spayed or neutered dog ($10 for seniors) and $20 for unspayed or unneutered dogs. The current rates are $2.50 and $7.50, plus a $2 local fee.

The change is brought on by the Department of Agriculture and Markets, which will stop handling licensing come 2011. That agency hasn't raised the fees since they were established in 1965, and the Town of Bethlehem added the $2 local fee in 1981. A mandated existing surcharge of $1 or $3 would continue, with those funds going to a state-specified organization handling animal control efforts.

Additionally, the town will stop providing purebred kennel licenses, which allow breeders to license their animals as a group. The four holders of such licenses will have to license their dogs individually.

The town has about 2,100 licensed dogs on record.

Town Board members said the change will help the town cover the costs associated with licensing but hopefully won't be too much to dissuade people from licensing their dogs.

We did see that for 20 years that there were no changes. We thought that this was reasonable, said Supervisor Sam Messina.

A license is required for all dogs over 4 months old, and requires the owner to present proof of vaccination against rabies. The license is good for one year.""

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