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Knock, knock: Does Fido have a license?
County Animal Services officers on Tuesday began a door-to-door canvassing of Ceres neighborhoods in search of dog and cat owners who don't have pet licenses.

"We're going door to door knocking on doors just basically, in a friendly mode, just to see if anybody has any animals not currently licensed and pretty much educate the public on them being required to have a license," said Animal Services Department Director Annette Patton.

Citations will be lessened by the Animal Shelter or a special clinic on Saturday, May 15. The clinic will be held at Don Pedro Park from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; and then on June 19 at Smyrna Park. The clinic offers pet licenses and a low-cost vaccination clinic.

"We also hold clinics here at the Animal Shelter to let people come in with their citation to license their dogs," said Patton.

The county's pet license fees are designed to financially encourage sterilization. Dog licenses for dogs that are spayed or neutered is $12 a year and a whopping $150 per year for dogs not fixed.

"The reason we do that so high is because we want animals to be spayed or neutered. Stanislaus County's pet overpopulation is extremely high."

County leaders have implemented fees and policies designed to reduce the numbers of unwanted pets. One such action is a $100 fee required to be paid on all dog litters.

"We issue litter permits which a lot of the public doesn't realized that when their dog has puppies they're required to obtain a litter permit," said Patton. "It's a hundred dollars. You have to get permission because we don't want dogs multiplying in this community."

Patton confessed that cats are the biggest problem in the county because of their quicker reproduction cycle. Cats are prone to wander from yard to yard and are capable of producing three litters a year.

"Cats multiply faster than dogs do and right now is cat season and people will come in on a daily basis bringing in litters of young kittens," said Patton. "Sometimes we'll come to work and we'll find boxes of young kittens just left at our doorstep. Of course they're pre-weened so it means they need their mommies still but they don't leave us the mommy. So those are the first things that are going to go down. Sometimes we have to put dozens of kittens down which is unfortunate. We're not adopting that many of them out on a daily basis. It's just really sad."

Cats, which aren't as popular as dogs, may be adopted for $45 at the shelter and come spayed and neutered and vaccinated. Dogs are $120.

With the economy being shaky, the canvassing may not come at a good time for area budgets but Patton said her department is required by law to enforce the licensing requirement.

Patton's staff recently made checks in Hughson which resulted in a big attendance at the clinic there.

"We historically do get a large response out to the clinic so that's why we added a clinic this year to Ceres."

Pet spaying and neutering is performed by local veterinarians but the county sells vouchers at its clinics on a limited basis to make it less expensive. The standard voucher costs $140 or $72 for low-income pet owners. Included is a rabies vaccination and a micro-chip.

The voucher offers greater savings.

"You can pay upwards of $200 just for a spay surgery on a larger female job. There's some really good local vets that are reasonably priced in Ceres, like Ceres Veterinarian and Crows Landing Veterinary."

Patton, a 1983 graduate of Ceres High School, said she looks forward to the county opening its new Animal Shelter at the corner of Crowslanding and Service roads in December. The structure will actually start raising from the ground up in six to eight weeks.

For more information on pet licensing call the Animal Shelter at 558-7387.