A dog feared lost but reunited with his Trotwood family more nearly five months after they were separated by a Memorial Day tornado received the county’s No. 1 dog license for 2020.
The tornado tore apart Semico and Anthony Harden’s house in the Westbrooke Village neighborhood and ripped apart the fence surrounding their backyard, where they had last seen Duke, their cane corso, before the storm.
“We don’t know if he actually ran off, or if the storm carried him off,” said Semico Harden. “But he wasn’t there.”
Duke and two other dogs were presented with the first three tags of 2020 by Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith at an event Wednesday to promote the sale of dog licenses, which will double in cost after Jan. 31.
Licenses through the end of the month are $20 for dogs spayed or neutered, $24 for those unaltered.
Keith said about 23,000 licenses have been purchased or renewed this year. The number is expected to arrive at about 60,000, typical for a normal year. But estimates based on census figures suggest the number of dogs in the county could be double that, he said.
“We think we are licensing a little more than half,” Keith said. “So about half the dogs are typically going unlicensed.”
About $1.34 million in license revenue accounted for roughly 38% of the Animal Resource Center’s total 2019 revenue of $3.53 million, according to the auditor’s office.
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Purchasing a tag is one way to ensure lost pets are returned to owners, said Montgomery County Commissioner Debbie Lieberman.
“This is truly your dog’s ticket home,” she said. “If they are separated and they have their tag we are going to find where they go right away.”
Beginning last year, Montgomery County animal care and control officers were equipped with tablet computers able to access animal owner information in multiple databases from the field, said Robert Sexton, animal care and control officer supervisor. Each officer also has a scanner to pull microchip data, technology also integrated on the tablet.
“Our hope is that we would not have to bring it back to our facility. We want to get the dog home,” Sexton said. “We don’t want to bring them in. It’s stressful on the animal, it’s stressful on everybody all around.”
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The Harden family searched day after day, month after month for Duke, who is two and half. With their home nearly destroyed, the family moved to a rental house in Vandalia, making the search for Duke more complicated.
Duke was sorely missed by the Hardens, their 17-year-old son and infant daughter, Semico said.
“He’s a family dog. He’s really, really friendly. He’s extremely good with children,” she said. “Although he’s really, really big and mighty, he’s completely harmless. He’s just a lovable dog. He’s a big Teddy bear.”
The family posted Duke’s picture online and put fliers on posts around town and in businesses.
“We plastered signs all over the place trying to find him,” Semico said.
Calls came in of potential sightings: Duke was possibly spotted along Main Street; seen roaming along Germantown Street; living in the woods near Shiloh Springs and Olive Road.
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When it wasn’t raining, Anthony searched and left food at the reported sites.
“I really hunted him down,” he said.
Another caller saw Duke’s picture up at a laundromat. It looked like the same dog he had seen earlier, also in the woods near Shiloh Springs and Olive Road.
Anthony raced out to investigate. It was the second tip reporting the same location.
“I saw some paw prints,” he said. “I knew it was my dog from the prints.”
He retrieved a T-shirt and a pair of shoes from home and and set them out at the woods’ edge.
“The next morning Duke was laying right there at the T-shirt and the shoes,” Anthony said. “He just ran and jumped on me. Like he was happy.”
It was Oct. 18.
“He was only like five minutes away from our home, but he was missing for four and a half months,” Semico said.
Anthony said Duke shed some of his 150 pounds through the ordeal and possibly sustained an injury to his hind left leg.
“He lost a little weight. He had a limp that he didn’t have before. Maybe during the tornado something might have hit him,” Anthony said. “You can’t tell when he’s running.”
The family was out of their home until just before Christmas. Earlier this week a new fence went up for Duke and his companion Duchess.
Duke was unlicensed, said his owners. Though it’s unclear if a tag would have brought Duke home quicker, the Hardens say it might have greatly improved the odds.
“Getting tagged like that is extremely important,” Semico said. “Had he had a tag and collar we probably would have gotten him back a lot sooner than we did.”
Where to purchase dog licenses
All dogs over the age of three months are required to be licensed in Montgomery County. The cost of licenses, $20 for dogs spayed or neutered and $24 for those unaltered, will double after Jan. 31. Licenses are sold throughout the year at the auditor’s office and at the Animal Resource Center and can be purchased through Jan. 31 at more than 20 outpost locations across the county.
Montgomery County Auditor’s Office
County Administration Building
451 West Third St.
Dayton, OH 45422
Montgomery County Animal Resource Center
6790 Webster St.
Dayton, OH 45414
Licenses can be purchased before Jan. 31 at these outpost locations
Locations north of U.S. 35
Brookville Animal Hospital: 506 Western Ave., 833-2740
Brubaker Grain: 11597 Upper Lewisburg Salem Road, Brookville, 833-4128
Englewood Animal Hospital: 589 S. Main St., 836-9636
Englewood Government Center: 333 W. National Road, 836-1194
Huber Heights City Hall: 6131 Taylorsville Road, 237-5824
Northmont Animal Clinic: 75 W. Wenger Road, Englewood: 836-4432
Old Troy Pike Veterinary Clinic: 5201 Old Troy Pike, Huber Heights, 236-4207
Shiloh Animal Hospital: 5321 N. Main St., Dayton, 278-3484
Locations south of U.S. 35
Brubaker Grain: 307 W. Center St, Farmersville, 696-2028
City of Centerville: 100 W. Spring Valley Road, 433-7151
City of Germantown: 75 N. Walnut St., 855-7264
Germantown Animal Health Center: 1904 Dayton Germantown Pike, 895-4707
Humane Society of Greater Dayton: 1661 Nicholas Road, Dayton, 268-7387
Kettering Animal Control: 3600 Shroyer Road, 371-3652 (call for hours and availability)
Kettering Animal Hospital: 1600 Delco Park Drive, 294-5211
Miami Township: 2700 Lyons Road, 433-9969
City of Moraine: 4200 Dryden Road, 535-1000
Oakwood City Offices: 30 Park Ave., 298-0402
Pet Supplies Plus: 987 S. Main St., Centerville, 438-8825
Pet Supplies Plus: 508 E. Stroop Road, Kettering, 294-7655
Robyn’s Nest Animal Rescue: 1291 W. Market St., Germantown, 247-9272
SICSA: 2600 Wilmington Pike, Kettering, 294-6505
Source: Montgomery County Auditor’s Office
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