Editor's note: This is the third installment in a series of reports about Clay County's dog tax -- who owes it, where to pay it, how much to pay and where the money goes.
Why do we tax dogs? It is a question that many people ask themselves, and not knowing is the main reason why many do not take the time to pay the licensing fees.
For example, in Brazil Township the number of properly licensed pets in 2002 was 58. After efforts to educate the public the number rose to 165 in 2004. As of June 22, 2005, the number of properly licensed dogs in Brazil city township is 50, but these numbers are not genuine.
"Let's be realistic, there are more dogs than that
ving inside the city limits," Brazil Township Trustee Marcia Tozer said. "We need to be more aggressive in collecting these fees, especially those trustees in the rural areas."
Originally created as a way to protect farmers livelihood generated through livestock, the dog tax funds collected, less expenses, are placed in the local township's Dog Fund and used to pay owners of qualified livestock killed or injured by stray animals or coyotes.
"Due to the nature of dogs, they can destroy people's property sometimes," Brazil Mayor Tom Arthur said. "That is why the tax is so beneficial for the community."
After a year, the remaining funds in the township Dog Fund, less the $300 which is allowed to remain in the account according to state statute, are transferred over to the county's Dog Fund. This money remains at the county level during the second year before being transferred to the state Dog Fund for the third year. At the beginning of the fourth year any left over funds are then transferred over to the Purdue Veterinarian School to be used for animal research purposes.
If one Dog Fund runs short of money, an agent can apply for funding from the next level to cover the cost of claims.
"Collecting dog taxes is not a livestock issue for the Brazil township area," Tozer said, adding there are equally important reasons for city residents to pay the tax. "It becomes one of covering incidents of dog bites by unidentified strays. These types of claims are what we deal with inside the city."
The last time the township had to pay for a rabies treatment, which can be very expensive if the victim is not covered by insurance, was in 1983.
"There are also benefits for the owner if they register and pay the tax on their dogs," said Tozer, who's a proud dog owner herself. "If your pet is ever missing, a dog license tag provides the best way of notifying you if someone finds your pet. Once your dog has been assigned a license with his own distinctive tag number, the information about your dog is permanently filed in the county's records, making it easier to return your pet."
Next -- How much is the dog tax?