A state law meant to help track dogs is turning out to be a headache for local budgets.
During the last General Assembly session, a law was created requiring vets to submit information to the locality to register a dog after it gets its rabies vaccination.
Staunton Animal Control Officer Shane Ayers says dog registration has gone up 15 percent since the law went into effect. He says it makes a big difference in law enforcement duties.
"If you lose a dog, find a dog, we can cross reference. If someone is bitten, all those records go back to the veterinarian. We can pull it and see when the dog was vaccinated, when it expires and that's all crucial," says Ayers.
That extra tracking comes at a cost to the city. Vice Mayor David Metz says Staunton has had to hire an additional Animal Control Officer and is going over budget in SPCA funding.
"Thats where the challenge is going to come, because this is mandate from the state. It's not something that the city or the locality has a choice in," says Metz.
One way to deal with the cost is to raise the dog licensing fee from $2 to the maximum of $10, but even that won't cover all the costs. Metz says this could send the wrong message.
He says, "They'll know they have to buy an additional dog license. My concern is they may try to skip the rabies shot."
Dog owner Irl Stansfield says he doesn't want to pay a higher price for registration every year. He has more than one dog, but he also doesn't want anyone discouraged from registering.
"Just in case something happens and one bites somebody, hopefully they'd be able to track it down," says Stansfield.
City leaders say they'll need to strike a balance by the end of the month, because that's the registration deadline for this year.