Many government officials say they have learned that amnesty programs can spur a multitude of guilt-ridden debtors into voluntarily paying a variety of delinquent obligations, ranging from overdue state taxes and library-book fines to child-support payments.
The City of Glendale this week adopted its own amnesty--one that has gone to the dogs, literally. The offer: Buy Fido a tag now or face six months in jail later.
The City Council on Tuesday granted owners of unlicensed dogs until Jan. 17 to get a license without penalty.
Won't 'Turn Themselves In'
The action prompted Councilman Carl Raggio to say: "I personally do not know of many dogs that are going to voluntarily turn themselves in."
A city publicity campaign will emphasize that the penalty for failure to buy a license can be as much as a $500 fine and six months in jail.
City Clerk Merle H. Hagemeyer called for the amnesty program because, he said, unlicensed dogs are "a big problem."
Aileen Boyle, deputy city clerk, estimates that at least 5,000 dogs in the city are unlicensed, about a third of the city's canine population. She said officials are concerned that large numbers of unlicensed dogs have not been vaccinated against rabies, which is required for a license.
"Our biggest concern is that we don't want dogs running around this hilly country without rabies protection. Gophers and ground squirrels can transmit rabies. What's to keep a gopher from biting a dog," she said.
250 Citations a Month
She said the lack of rabies protection is a threat to people. "If we could save just one child from having to take those painful rabies treatments, we feel the whole program will be worthwhile," Boyle said.
The city issues citations for unlicensed dogs to about 250 pet owners a month. Almost 900 citations are outstanding. Boyle said the city earns about $84,000 annually from the sale of dog licenses, which cost $15 each, or $7.50 for a neutered dog. Senior citizens and low-income pet owners are charged half price, too.
Licenses can be bought at the city clerk's office at Glendale City Hall, 613 E. Broadway, or at the animal shelter, 717 Ivy St.