Antique Dog License Tags are a Collectable

The earliest known documentation  of dog license tags was in 1446 in Utrecht, Holland, and the fee for the license was paid for in salt. I wonder how many pounds would be needed today?  At that time, the dog license tags were probably distributed by the local municipalities as is the case today.  These early dog license tags were intended to be disposable.  Those that were discarded years ago are frequently unearthed through the use of a metal detector.  Regardless of its condition, a buried, corroded or damaged dog license tag has value to a collector, especially if it is a rare specimen. Discovering a century-old tag is an extraordinary experience, especially if it is still attached to an old leather or metal collar. Keeping these dog license tags as they were found honors them as a sentimental keepsake and also preserves the historical evidence that allows more accurate dating.

Mascot of the Railway Mail Service and His Collection of Dog Tags

dog license tags
Photo from the Smithsonian

Owney, the Postal Dog was a scruffy mutt who became a regular fixture at the Albany, New York Post Office in 1888. His owner was likely a postal clerk who let the dog accompany him to work. Postal workers were fond of the dog, and even when his master moved on to other employment, Owney remained a permanent fixture at the Post Office. His attraction to the scent of mailbags led him onto mail wagons and then onto mail trains. Owney began to ride along with the bags on Railway Post Office (RPO) train cars across New York State and eventually the country!

Railway mail clerks considered the dog a sort of lucky charm, because no train Owney rode was ever in a wreck. The RPO clerks adopted Owney as their unofficial mascot, marking his travels by placing medals and dog tags on his collar. Each time Owney returned home to Albany, the clerks there saved the dog tags.  Postmaster General John Wanamaker was one of Owney’s fans. When he learned that the dog’s collar was weighed down by an ever-growing number of dog tags, he gave Owney a harness on which to display his collection.

When Owney passed away, mail clerks raised funds to have him preserved, and he was given to the Post Office Department’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. In 1911, the department transferred

Dog License Tags and Moving

dog license nys

When moving from one state to another, you most likely have a checklist so things go smoothly

  • Hire movers
  • Organize packing
  • Research new location: cost of living, schools, housing, etc.

And if you have pets, you’ll also want to know about licensing.  Cesar Millan, sometimes called the dog whisperer, offers five reasons why it’s important to license your dog.  The most important reason is that it’s the law in many states.

Better to be safe than sorry by checking ahead for laws  and regulations in your new location.

Dog License Tags in New York City and State

If you live in New York City, it’s important to know that all dogs in the city must have licenses, and the dog license tag must be attached to their collars while in public. Dog owners may be fined for violating these requirements. Dog owners can purchase a license that is valid for one year or up to five years. The cost of the license depends on its duration and whether the dog is spayed/neutered.

A dog license can help dog owners:

  • Find lost dogs. Visit the dog eLocator system for more information.
  • Let their dog go off-leash in city parks.
  • Simplify medical follow-ups. This is especially important if your dog bites someone.
  • Support animal shelters. Licensing fees help fund shelters and pay for free and low-cost spay and neuter programs.

In New York State owners of every dog 4 months of age or older must have their pet licensed. Owners can apply for this license at the municipality where the dog is harbored. Contact your municipal clerk to find out what documentation is needed to obtain a license.  The municipality will then give the owner a dog license tag, with an identification number, that must always be affixed to that dog’s collar.

As an extra precaution for your beloved pet, you can register it here.  Even the most careful dog owner can lose a pet.  If you’ve obtained a dog license tag and registered your dog on one or more websites, you have a better chance of bringing your pet home.  In the information note section for registering your dog, you can include the dog license tag identification number.

There are some dog owners who resist obtaining a dog license tag for their pet even though it’s the law.  There could be consequences if one chooses not to.  You could drive a car without a license, and if you’re never stopped by the police or in an accident, no one would be the wiser.  It’s a risk you take.  If your dog stays under the radar, it might be fine not to have a dog license tag.  But if something should happen, the penalty for not have a dog license tag might be much more expensive than buying one as required.  Is that a risk you’re willing to take?


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