MODESTO -- A dog license amnesty program for owners in the Stanislaus County unincorporated area and five cities has been a tail-wagging success.
And it's been extended through Feb. 28.
Annette Patton, director of the Stanislaus Animal Services Agency, said 4,363 new licenses were issued in January after late fees and penalties were waived for dog owners. The amnesty applies to residents of Modesto, Ceres, Patterson, Waterford, Hughson and areas outside city boundaries.
The response surpassed the expectations of Patton, who had set a goal of 2,000 new licenses. She extended the amnesty so more owners can take advantage of it this month.
"The last two weeks of January, the lines were out the door," Patton said. "Even if they waited in line for a period of time, the overall response was positive."
The amnesty program produced about $100,000 in license revenue last month and also gave a boost to pet adoptions, Patton said. People going to the animal shelter on Cornucopia Way to buy first-time licenses or renew long-expired ones discovered the adoption serv- ice. About 100 dogs and cats went home with new owners.
Patton said she's seen the normal amount of customers at the animal shelter this week but hopes traffic will pick up before the program is done. The agency usually issues about 1,800 licenses a month.
For the rest of this month, a license costing $12 can be purchased for a spayed or neutered dog without fear of citations or penalties, with the purchase including a microchip identification.
The fee for an unaltered dog is $150, but owners can purchase a $140 voucher to have the dog spayed or neutered by a veterinarian. The purchase includes a rabies vaccination, dog license and microchip.
State law requires owners to obtain a license when their dog reaches 5 months of age, or within 30 days of taking ownership or bringing an unlicensed dog into the county. After the amnesty expires, owners who have not licensed their dog or renewed its license can be bitten by a $251 citation.
Dog licenses can be purchased at the county animal shelter at 3647 Cornucopia Way, off Crows Landing Road in Modesto, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Call (209) 558-7387.