Followup Investigation: County's costly mistake with dog license renewals

Followup Investigation: County's costly mistake with dog license renewals

We've uncovered new details on a dog license mistake that's costing taxpayers a bundle and could have been prevented. Our investigation found taxpayers aren't the only ones that could be affected.

The Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter is a temporary home for displaced and abandoned dogs. The bills are paid by fees people pay to adopt a dog, but also from revenue generated by the sale of dog licenses. 

Here's the problem: Two-thirds of the people who are mailed license applications didn't get them in the county's initial mailing. The other one-third got as many as three applications for each dog.

"We got her from here. We're getting a sister for her," said one couple.

This couple received six applications for their two dogs. Carl Monday exposed the problem earlier this month. He cited the postage costs of $32,000. Now a new bill has come in for printing. A source quoted a cost of $92,000. 

"When I spoke to Mr. Fitzgerald he kind of gave me a glib answer. 'Well, there was a mistake. What do you want me to do about it?' Well, I want some answers and I think the taxpayers want some answers," said Ellen Connally.

County Council President Ellen Connally is an avid dog lover and says bad data was transferred from the county to the printer. It is a costly mistake that could have been avoided if the county had paid for a scan for duplicates.

"The county declined to spend the extra money to have the checks. It was just a lot of inexperienced people who didn't know what they were doing," said Connally, who also mentioned the checks were $200.

The updated license applications began to arrive at homes this week. The fee is $20 and is due by the end of January.

They like to say if your dog is lost, a license is his phone call home. It is also the law in Ohio, whether you got three applications or none.

"Ultimately, the money from the dog licenses cares for the kennel and I don't want any money to be lost for the kennel," said Connally.

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