MODESTO -- Veterinarians won't be forced to snitch on owners of unlicensed dogs, the Stanislaus Animal Services Agency announced Friday.
Some animal doctors had objected to the idea of sharing confidential client information that could be used by animal control to go after owners of unregistered dogs, The Bee reported Wednesday.
"It was decided that mandatory reporting will not be implemented," Friday's news release says.
Boosting numbers of licensed pets could bring more revenue to the agency, which receives about $410,000 per year in license fees. Nearly half of all dogs in Modesto, Ceres, Patterson, Hughson, Waterford and unincorporated areas of Stanislaus County are not registered as required by law, according to estimates.
Some veterinarians feared that with Big Brother watching, clients would be reluctant to seek medical help for pets. Others said it would be sneaky to check rabies vaccination records as a pretext for nabbing unlicensed dogs, when rabies is nearly unheard of in domesticated pets.
A few Bee readers said they fear veterinary records could expose people who own more pets than allowed by their city or town. Modesto permits two dogs per home, but Patterson allows four.
Frankie Bonifacio, president of the Northern San Joaquin Veterinary Medical Association, said clients heard from since the first story appeared all frowned on vets playing an enforcement role.
Turlock, Oakdale, Riverbank and Newman use agencies other than Stanislaus Animal Services Agency.
Some animal hospitals and clinics voluntarily share rabies data, the release says. Annette Patton, executive director of the Stanislaus Animal Services Agency, could not be reached Friday.
The agency "continues to strongly encourage citizens to obtain a rabies vaccination for their dog in the best interest of protecting the health of their dog and the community," the release says.
Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2390.