“I do not want to live with the threat of some government official taking my dog away from me due to some misunderstanding”


I reader cc’s me on a letter to DOH:

“To whom it may concern,

Today when Officer Daniels came to do the second health check as part of the quarantine of my dog Shiro, who was bitten at a dog park by another dog [which I reported], he left with my spouse an Official Notification of Animal Control Violation. I informed to him that I had renewed Shiro’s dog license and that the Health Regulation and Licensing Administration, in a letter, said that they had changed their system for dog tags and that the old tag will remain active unless it is lost. Officer Daniels said that a new tag is issued annually and that I need to present that to him or could be fined. There is obviously tremendous lack of communication between two offices, the Health Regulation and Licensing Administration and the Animal Services Program, in the same department, Department of Health, located in the same building.

Is there a new tag? Why was I not given the new tag and instead given a letter with information that Officer Daniels says is incorrect?

I need to solve this issue as soon as possible because I do not want to live with the threat of some government official taking my dog away from me due to some misunderstanding or misinterpretation that can lead to any form of abuse, which seems to be common in the District.

I am sure I am not the only person that is or will be experiencing a similar issue and there are many dog owners in this community that should be informed in the next ANC meeting.”

47 Comment

  • Never invite a vampire (or a D.C. Gov’t official) into your home.

    Lesson learned.

  • The threat is fines, not confiscation of your dog. If you’re terribly concerned DC agencies do not agree on the validity of your previous renewal, get a new license for $15. It will be less than the fines. And $15 is a bargain for peace of mind if you still believe your dog will be snatched from your arms by animal control.

  • 1. The consequence is a fine, not confiscation. Still not good, but not nearly as scary.

    2. Did/can you show Animal Services the letter that says you paid the registration? It seems like this would clear things up, right?

    3. If not, did you pay for the licence with a check or credit card? If so, can you find the statement that shows you did so?

    4. If you’re still worried, call the Licensing Administration and say that the letter was not sufficient and you want a new tag.

    5. If all else fails, pay the $15 and get a new tag. Not ideal, really aggravating, but worth it for peace of mind and probably less than the fine.

  • Are you kidding me? So your dog is bitten by another dog at a dog park and they’re threatening to fine YOU? Meanwhile some nut job woman is running around Capitol Hill with two dangerous dogs who have attacked and bitten at least one dog and one child that we know of and nothing is happening to her? Way to make public safety your top priority, animal control.

  • I sent in a new registration for my newly adopted puppy approximately six weeks ago and have yet to receive the license. I called up earlier this week to confirm they have received my registration and apparently there is currently a two-month delay. I asked if she could check that my application had been received and was told that there was so much paperwork that this would take her DAYS to determine. Her only recommendation was to wait it out until it arrived. Not very helpful at all. So if you do get a new license – don’t expect it to be a fast process!!!!!!

    • +1 We had a similar experience. We sent in the dog license paperwork in November 2013 and our check was cashed late March 2014, but we never received anything. After multiple calls (3+) to check on the status and being told since it took so long they would renew the license for the next year, we only received the tag last week in mid July. When the tag was finally received, the expiration date on the paperwork was mid June…already 3 weeks expired! Now even though we have tags we still have no idea if they’re valid. I don’t mind paying another $15, but to send it into a black abyss again after proactively trying to fix the problem multiple times is not reassuring.

    • accendo

      There is more than a two-month delay. I submitted in November last year and still have no license. That department is a mess!!

      Multiple calls, emails, etc. resulted in them complaining that they have a “new system” and aren’t sure where all documents are in some cases. It’s pretty damn shameful, if you ask me.

      • . . . so i shouldn’t bother?
        honestly, i have had my pup for 3 years and never got a license. seems like they aren’t in a hurry to issue them, so i shouldn’t be in a hurry to get one.

    • err, I walked in there around the same time with an application and walked out with a license…

    • homerule

      This happened to us too! Last May, I sent in the information and check. By August, we still hadn’t gotten anything. I repeatedly called, tweeted and emailed management to no avail. I finally registered him in person this May at their mobile van, which was an hour late to the Shaw Dog Park.

  • epric002

    i was actually wondering where my renewed dog tag was as well, but was starting to convince myself (remember?) that they weren’t going to issue new tags every year anymore. do you still have the old tag? i checked mine last night and there’s no expiration date on it, so unless you don’t have a tag at all, how would the ofc would have determined that the tag is not up-to-date? you can contact the DoH by visiting them in person or calling: Department of Health
    Division of Animal Disease Prevention
    899 North Capitol Street, NE
    2nd Floor
    Washington, DC 20002
    (202) 535-2323

    • GiantSquid

      Same here. I received my paperwork back with the “office only” section filled out and no new tags. So Capitol Building tags for the long haul I guess it is.

  • Do people really register their dogs? I’ve never done this. What is the point and who would enforce it?

    • Doesn’t a dog have to have a dog license?

      • That is, a “dog tag” that shows it has had its shots? I like dogs, but have been bitten by three different pet dogs in my life. Just yesterday saw a poddle prance up aside its owner and bite a passerby. Dogs can be dangerous.

          • Yes I see there is a statute – alert lawyer here — but how can it be enforced?

            Officer: Your dog is not registered.
            Me: Do you have proof my dog is over four months?


            Officer: Your dog is not registered.
            Me: He’s not my dog. I am watching him for a friend that lives in Maryland.


            Officer: Your dog is not registered.
            Me: Do you have proof I acquired him more than 10 days ago?


          • If your pooch is on the loose without a current tag, I believe the govt can catch Rover. Have you never seen dog catchers in cartoons?

    • epric002

      yes, because it is required. The DC Code 8-1804 reads as follows:
      (b) An owner who has a dog over the age of four months shall before July 1st of each year, or within 10 days of acquiring the dog, or within 10 days after the dog becomes four months of age, obtain an annual license. An owner shall ensure that his dog wears a collar and a license.

      (c) Before any annual license may be issued, the owner of the dog shall have the dog vaccinated against rabies and distemper, and shall pay any outstanding fines.

      (e) Except as provided in subsection (f) of this section, the annual license fee for a dog is as follows:

      No fee for a dog trained to aid the audio-handicapped or blind and actually used for that purpose;
      $15.00 for a male dog certified by a licensed veterinarian as either neutered or incapable of enduring neutering;
      $15.00 for a female dog certified by a licensed veterinarian as either spayed or incapable of enduring spaying; and
      $50.00 for all other dogs.

  • I adopted a dog in March and applied for the license in March. I have called, visited and emailed a few times and I still have not received the dog license. They are always friendly when I contact them, but I’m not sure what else I need to do to get the license.

  • I don’t want to get political here or overly dramatic, but I hope everyone will understand — when reading things like this (and they are happening all too often) — that THIS is what tyranny looks like. This is what tyranny means: when you — a lawful citizen — live in fear of your government.

    Our founding fathers fought a bloody war and then wrote a beautiful document to protect us from government tyranny. I know that rules are important and we should abide by them to our utmost best for the good of society, but we are not supposed to live in fear.

    • jim_ed

      /Facepalm times infinity.

      “I don’t want to get political here or overly dramatic” but here, let me do both with pizzazz!
      Also, BENGHAZI.

      • +1 and LOL
        This isn’t tyranny. Bureaucratic incompetence, sure, but not tyranny.

        • Because there’s no tyranny in America. No, none at all. And you’re a [*face-palm*] right-wing nut if you dare suggest there is. And “BENGHAZI” just to prove what a crazy you are.

          Oh, OKAY.

          Nevermind that every single day there’s a new story in the news — yes, regular news, not the kind that right-winger crazies watch (whatever that is) — about government or police over-stepping their bounds in frightening ways. But I’m glad you feel safe and can LOL about the rest of us who don’t always. I really mean it.

          The lady in question here may be facing nothing more than “incompetence” (never mind that this governmental incompetence is rampant, unrelenting, and screws with people’s lives — but don’t call it tyranny!) — but SHE stated that she is living “with the threat” of her pet being taken away. I hope you never feel the anxiety of fear/threat and have someone laugh at your concerns.

    • Relax. No one is going to take your dog away. Just do what the notice says — either provide proof of a license or get a new one. The guy is just doing his job, and the money that’s raised from the licenses allows guys like him to be around to help you out when another dog bites your dog.

    • Government officials, like all other human beings, are often incompetent. If the closest thing to tyranny I ever experienced in my life was having to pay an unjust $150 fine once in a while, I would be singing odes to freedom from the mountaintops. There are many scary things in the world–the incompetence of DC animal control flunkies does not rank high on any well considered list.

    • So tyranny isn’t when you fear that the government is going to take away your rights. That’s like saying love is that my grandmother believed that Johnny Cash was going to be her lover. There’s a difference between fact and personal opinion. I’d say that the fact you can talk about how this is tyranny means its not so much tyranny.

  • For future reference, if you go to one of the DOH Animal Health Clinics they have, you can pay and get your license right there. They’re usually in May and June and there’s one in each ward. They also give free vaccinations there as well.

  • Another good note to know is that the dog license expires every July, no matter when you bought it. We adopted a dog in March and were encouraged not to bother registering the dog until July because we’d be paying the same amount for far less than a year.

    Seems to me the dog licensing is just another way for the govt to collect money from citizens. If your dog runs away and is found by animal control, they can fine you and not give you your dog back until you register it. If you don’t register your dog and you’re a responsible dog owner, nothing will happen. So that’s why my dog has a microchip, a name tag with our home info, another tag to track his shots, and no DC registration.

  • So… had no idea you had to license your dog in DC! I have two dogs… both rescues… one we’ve had for 2 years, one for a year…
    So I’ve downloaded the application and pulled out the records like a good law abiding citizen, but after reading the comments, I wonder to what end? Just more income stream for the city?? And my dogs are chipped… and wear their tags… soo… what again is the point of licensure? Oh, and up here in upper NE DC there are no dog parks, so its not like I’m using them or should be paying for them (besides from property taxes)… soo… what is the point of licensure?

  • As many upthread have commented, the penalty is a fine, not some government official taking your dog away. Officer Daniels made that plain as day in his write up (last sentence).

    Rather than running breathless to your computer to write a dramatic letter to the DOH (and cc’ing a local blog on said letter), perhaps the better course of action would have been to pick up a phone and call someone at the Animal Services Program to determine the issue with licensing (whether you could keep the old tag or had to acquire a new one). Further, it appears that Officer Daniels stated that you could avoid a fine if you provided him with the letter–which you said you have–so I’m not sure why you are living in fear of your dog being confiscated.

    I’m all for (and usually can relate) when people air their grievances and issues on PoP, but this just strikes me as a bit of an over-the-top reaction. There will always be incompetence and miscommunication in a government bureaucracy. Is it frustrating? Sure. But in the time you spent writing the letter to DOH, you could have called Animal Services, provided Officer Daniels with the letter if need be, and had this whole episode behind you so that you could enjoy this wonderful July day.

  • This. Is. Infuriating. INFURIATING.

  • Your dog won’t get taken away – I’m the one who’s been agitating about the vicious Capitol Hill sheepdog after he bit my dog and a child and even in the case of something like that, getting a dog taken away is not on the table (nor do I want it to be, I just want him muzzled when out in public) so in your case, the worst will be a fine – but still, absurd for something that’s not your fault. In my dozen hours or so of agitating in my case in the past few months, I came across the following woman at DoH who is actually quite responsive (unfortunately she’s only able to refer my case to someone far less responsive, but it seems like for your situation, she’s exactly who you need to reach out to):

    Lakisha J. Thompson
    Licensing Specialist
    Government of the District of Columbia
    Department of Health/Bureau of Community Hygiene
    Animal Services Program
    Board of Veterinary Examiners
    899 North Capitol St. NE. 2nd floor
    Washington, DC 20002
    202-535-2323 (office)
    202-442-4817 (fax)
    [email protected]

    • Don’t jurisdications impound dogs that are caught outdoors without a license? That happened where I grew up.

  • First of all: Ofcr Daniels is doing his job, one that is often (Read: usually) thankless.
    It is an Annual License, and it is your responsibility to have it on your dog’s collar when off of your property or available upon request of a law enforcement officer. It is also your responsibility to renew the license (think vehicle registration).

    To your point about the inefficiency of the department.
    The database where your dog registration is held is in a system at DC Department of Health Animal Disease Prevention (this is a department of just TWO people). The Animal Officers and investigators do not have access to this system, and so have no idea whether or not your dog is current if you don’t have the tag or paperwork.

    “The DC Dept of Animal Control” is not an actual department of the city. Ofcr Daniels is an employee of The Washington Humane Society. The Ofcrs are not employed by the city, the police department or the department of health.
    WHS holds a contract with the city to serve as an animal control department. This relationship works out fine when the calls are for injured sparrows or lost puppies, but not for actual enforcement. You may not think this is a big deal… but it is when we are talking about aggravated animal abuse or any time when a suspect needs detaining for questioning.
    The contract with WHS is a holdover from an era when municipalities didn’t want to be bothered with animal law. DC Animal Laws are part of the City Code, and therefore enforceable by MPD, DC Animal Control CAN NOT issue you any fines.
    Humane Society and ASPCA contracts to fulfill law enforcement needs are a thing of the past and fading away in US cities and counties. Make your council-member aware of this. Here’s how: when Animal Control shows up at your door request MPD before providing any information, when Animal Control issues you a ” Notification of Animal Control Violations” DO NOT comply, you are not required to, because they do not have the ability to cite you or follow up on it. If MPD cites, you pay it. Eventually MPD will get sick getting called out to do AC’s job and Lanier will be willing to absorb AC into the Dept.


    • You’re just plain wrong on the first point. I can confirm what the OP said about the license tags no longer being replaced annually. I actually went into the DOH dog licensing office in person to renew, and they gave me back the very same tag (with an old expiration date on it) and said I was good to go.

  • I hadn’t bothered to get a license for our dog (six years of delinquency, oops!) but after a bite incident and 10-day follow-up visit last month we had to get one. True story: I walked into the 899 N. Capitol location at 3:45pm last Friday and walked out at 4:17pm with the license in hand and all squared away. Keisha was lovely and even sent my stuff over to the contracted Animal Control folks at Humane Society for me, to help close the communication gaps. If you have a special case or issue, in person is worth the trip!

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