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Health Dept.: 80% Of NYC Dogs Not Licensed

NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- Everyone knows you need a license to drive and a license to practice law or medicine.

But a license to own a dog?

As CBS 2's Scott Rapoport reports, what you don't know could cost you.

You see them all over the place -- in streets and in parks -- so it seems like a no-brainer that these dogs are licensed right?

Not necessarily. Some dog owners either don't know they have to get a license or just don't do it.

"Why license them? What's the point?" one dog owner said.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene estimates 400,000 dogs -- or 80 percent of the city's dog population -- are unlicensed, even though a license only costs about $10.

"The law is that every dog 4 months or older in New York City must be licensed," Health and Mental Hygiene worker Norma Torres said.

Torres said the law is in place largely as a matter of safety, a way to make sure that the dogs have had their rabies shots, among other things.

"The money that we collect from dog licensing fees helps support our animal shelters in New York City and Animal Control services," Torres said.

Rapoport checked in with towns in Nassau County on Long Island and in Essex County in New Jersey and found the laws there we're virtually the same.

And if you don't license your dog it could cost you -- anywhere from $25 to $200 in the city.

"It's what the city requires. It's not a big deal. A few dollars to make sure she's safe and I don't get a ticket. It's worthwhile," one dog owner said.

Leaving folks like Marian Holly vowing to pay now so she doesn't have to pay later.

To get your dog licensed in most cases you need to get in touch with your local department of health. Many allow you to complete the application process online.

CLICK HERE for the NYC Dog License Web site

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