Friday, January 18, 2002

Pet licenses

GOP may be dogged by fee hike

        Hamilton County's increased license fees for Fido have created hard feelings among dog owners.

        The more costly fees could also create hard times for politicians. Republicans could lose control of the courthouse and end up in the dog house.

        The price for a dog license this year jumped a whopping 44 percent. From $9 to $13.

        Completed license renewal forms are arriving at the office of County Auditor Dusty Rhodes. By the Jan. 31 deadline, more than 63,000 should be there.

        Judging from comments I read on 181 forms, owners dearly love their furry pals.

        “My dog is not only a pet. She is my protection,” wrote Peggy Reichel, a Sayler Park resident and owner of Tiny the fox terrier.

        But many owners in my unscientific sample are howling mad over the increase.

        “What's next — a tax on the air we breathe?” asked Terri Wessel, the Northside owner of Maggie and Morgan, two Airedales.

        “Highway robbery!!!” declared Stephen M. Ash of Norwood, owner of a Boston terrier named Bandit.

        Some owners swear they'll get revenge by voting against the GOP, the party of the county commissioners who approved the increase.

        “The Republicans on the commission have just created a new Democrat,” wrote Clifton's Jerry Franks, owner of Daisy, a yellow Lab.

        The dog owners' comments are quite instructive. They show how a seemingly impersonal governmental action can provoke highly personal reactions from the people affected.

Dusty's with them

        The concerned and angry dog owners aren't alone. Dusty Rhodes vigorously opposed the fee increase.

        But he had no official say in the matter.

        Hamilton County's three commissioners did.

        They approved the 44-percent increase by a 2-to-1 vote. Hamilton County's $13 fee is the most expensive dog license in Southern Ohio and the fourth most expensive in the state.

        The commissioners' vote to raise the cost of a dog license split along party lines.

        Yes: Republicans John Dowlin and Tom Neyer.

        No: Democrat Todd Portune.

        Mad: Dog owners.

        “Why is it more? Where does the money go?” wondered Paul McDaniel of Cheviot and the owner of Bernice the Dachshund.

        “I guess we are paying for the overruns on Paul Brown Stadium (AKA: Sucker Stadium),” theorized Mount Healthy resident Jack Bigelow, owner of Blair, a Blue Merle Sheltie.

        The auditor told me the dog-license increase came about because the county administration “wants the fee to pay for 100 percent of the dog-warden program.”

        The county does not want to dip into the general fund to pay for the program. That fund is being dipped into enough with the county in its stadium-building mode.

Election Day revenge

        Nearly 20 percent of the dog owners in my sample wrote that they planned to vote against the tax-and-spend Republicans who raised the dog-license fee. That could hurt the GOP's intentions to continue as the Hamilton County Commission's ruling party.

        “Taxpayers do not forget,” warned John Kennedy of Covedale and the owner of Cody and Snoopy.

        Pet owners are loyal to anyone who treats them right. Doesn't matter whether it's a politician. Or a faithful dog.

       Columnist Cliff Radel can be reached at 768-8379; fax 768-8340; e-mail


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