Avoid citations, register your dogs

Cathy Decker/Staff reporter
Dog registration and rabies shots go hand-in-hand in Mercer County. This year's Mercer County dog registration tags are a green bell (one year) or green tag (three year). It is not necessary for a dog to be wearing the dog tag in order for it to be legal. Mercer County currently has 4,060 registered dogs.

According to state law, all veterinarians who administer a rabies vaccine are required to report the vaccine to the county where the dog's owner lives. That law affects all dogs four months of age and older. With the rabies shot comes the annual county registration tag. Dog owners are required to register their dogs within 30 days of the rabies vaccine.

"There is an optional three-year rabies shot and registration fee," says Chris Brewer, Mercer County Animal Control officer. "All dogs that are vaccinated have 30 days after the rabies shot before a citation may be issued to the dog owner."

Citations start at a $25 fee and can go to $500.

Owners can either mail a copy of the rabies certificate to the Animal control office, 100 SE 3rd St., Aledo, IL 61231, along with the annual tag fee of $15 a year per dog (if spayed or neutered) or $25 apiece if not altered, or register their dogs at the Mercer County Courthouse. Registration office hours at the second floor courthouse office are Mondays and Wednesdays 1-4 p.m. and Friday's from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. "The Animal Control Facility is dependent on the rabies tag revenue that is generated," said Brewer. Brewer said that dog owners who are in the registration files do receive courtesy reminders.

"We would like to get the owners to pay without the citation process," said Brewer. "Otherwise it could become very costly to the dog owner and time consuming to the registration office."

Brewer said their is a lot of confusion about what some of the county ordinances are. "Many residents seem unaware that all dogs four months of age or over in the state of Illinois have to have a current rabies vaccine and be registered with the county where the dog resides," she said.

The county also has a leash law for all dogs off the owner's property. "All dogs off the owner's property must be on a leash or under the control of the owner, regardless of the dog being in a rural area or not," she said.