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      State shifts dog license responsibilities to local towns

      Towns will start issuing dog licenses in 2011

      In a budget cutting move, New York State is shifting the job of issuing dog licenses from the Department of Agriculture and Markets to individual towns.

      Town of Salina Supervisor Mark Nicotra says that with budgets being drawn up now, towns are figuring how the new system will work and what it will cost. Besides generating the new forms, it will involve stamping new dog tags, with individual towns' names and a new identification number system.

      Town clerks are working, through their association, to generate standardized software and forms, as well as to create a database to replace the state's dog trace system. According to Skaneateles Town Clerk Janet Aaron, the new system could make it easier to track lost dogs.

      Right now the towns keep about one half of the annual registration fees, with the rest going to the state and counties.

      With the state out of the mix, more money will stay local, but Nicotra says there are more expenses, so it's not clear it will be a moneymaker.

      Dog owners will not notice much of a change. Other than getting new tags this coming year, they'll still file paperwork with their town clerk offices. However, it's hoped that the publicity about the changeover will encourage more people to register their pets.