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A proposal to raise the penalty fee for failing to renew a dog license in Davis County was tabled Monday by the county commissioners. But they indicated they favor the idea and will act on it at their Wednesday meeting.

Animal control director DeeAnn Hess requested the increase, saying too many people aren't renewing their dog licenses because the penalty isn't tough enough.Owners who renew after the annual expiration date are penalized an additional $2. Hess wants to raise that to $5 immediately and then to $10 by Jan. 1.

Hess estimates that only about 20 percent of the dogs in the county are licensed. A license is $12 for an intact animal, $6 for one that is spayed or neutered.

A $2 penalty fee on top of the $6 or $12 licensing fee makes it worthwhile for owners to gamble on not renewing, she said.

To boost renewals, Hess is contracting with workers to canvass neighborhoods door to door, seeking unlicensed dogs. The agents will receive a percentage of all fees they collect.

Boosting the penalty from $2 to $5 will help finance the canvass, the first door-to-door renewal campaign the county has run in four or five years, according to Hess.

Commissioner Gerald Purdy acknowledged the renewal rate is low and the county, which provides animal control services including licensing for the majority of the cities in it, needs to boost renewals.

But this is hardly a good time of the year to increase fees, with property taxes coming due and the holidays ahead, Purdy said. He proposed to boost the fee to $5 on Jan. 1 and then $10 on Feb. 1.

Commissioners Gayle Stevenson and J. Dell Holbrook, who oversees the animal control department, agreed to table the measure until Wednesday's meeting to look at some alternatives.

Hess said her department budgeted for $90,000 revenue from license sales. But with the low renewal rate, she's looking at a shortfall of around $18,000, Hess said.

There is $5,000 in her budget to pay for a licensing renewal campaign, but boosting the penalty rate will increase the amount of funds available for the canvassing effort and bring in additional revenue, Hess said.

There is also a humane side to the campaign, she said. Too many dogs are brought into the shelter and euthanized because they don't have identification or registration tags and shelter employees can't locate their owners.

Owners in many cases wait a week or more before thinking of contacting the shelter, Hess said, and in those cases the animal has already been killed.