Why New York State Dog Licenses Are Important

Mischief, a golden retriever full of roguish devilry and given to a wide assortment of shenanigans, for years filled Carla and Keith’s apartment with woofs of joy, squeals of delight, and occasionally a few (human) yelps of horror. The reason for the latter was this: all her doggy life, Mischief had a penchant for swiping food from unsuspecting humans. This irremediable behavior once even inspired Carla to write a poem for her niece!

Fair Warning: Our Dog Loves Spaghetti

Our dog loves spaghetti, and meatballs too,
And sometimes she even eats tofu!
My Dad tried to train her, teach her what to do:
Heel, sit, roll—and wait for a treat or two.
But she doesn’t listen, though she does understand.
Instead she ignores our every command.
She can reach every tabletop, no matter how high,
And sticks out her tongue, like a toad catching a fly,
To grab pizza crusts, or bananas with peels—
Meanwhile ignoring her own doggy meals—
Without breaking a dish or making a sound!
In a flash it’s all gone when you turn around.
“Guard your dinner well!” we tell all our guests,
To warn them they can’t trust this pest of all pests.
Swiping our food is her most favorite game.
And what do we call her? Mischief is her name.


Sadly, a few weeks ago Carla and Keith had no choice but to bid 13-year-old Mischief a tearful farewell. They placed her collar by the kitchen window, where she often sat in the hopes of catching spills and devouring crumbs. Even now, every so often, Mischief’s old Ketchum New York State dog license sparkles in the summer sun—just like her ever-blithe spirit.

Carla and Keith recall Mischief’s frisky puppy days with much fondness. When she was four months old—the day she wedged her little head between the slats of the upstairs bannister—they did what every responsible dog owner in New York must eventually do: they got her an official New York State dog license.

Like most New Yorkers, Mischief’s parents lead hectic lives. They followed the instructions to apply for a New York State dog license online, and voilà! It was all taken care of within a few minutes. They also had the option to download the application or call 311 for a paper copy. They always received a notice well before Mischief’s New York State dog license was about to expire, giving them enough time to renew the license online.

Getting a New York State dog license is important for many reasons. Here are the main ones.

It’s the Law

Assorted dog license tags
The dog license tag might be one of several dog tags worn (source)

Like most other states and municipalities, New York mandates that dog owners have a pet license. The absence of an up-to-date New York State dog license can lead to a sizeable fine—which is often way more than the cost of getting a pet license in the first place. Thus, without fail, Carla and Keith renewed Mischief’s license every year and ensured that the license was always visible.

There are an estimated one million pets in New York City, with the majority being dogs. Not only does licensing allow states to keep track of the canine population, it also makes it easier for state authorities to take necessary precautions in case of public health concerns involving dogs.

A Way Home

When Mischief was two years old, she developed a wanderlust that sometimes led her astray. During a family vacation over Labor Day in Rosemary Beach, Florida, Mischief went missing. A good Samaritan read the information on Mischief’s New York State dog license, and the pup was subsequently reunited with her human parents.

Dog licenses also help animal control and shelters correctly identify a pet via the license tag Dog e-Locator system to reunite them with their owners. To report or search for a lost dog, visit Animal Care Centers of New York.

Free Range

Pullquote: Spend one joyful afternoon at Jemmy's Dog Run

Dogs with a New York State dog license are permitted to be off-leash in the City. Mischief often played fetch with Keith at several dog runs in the City and happily mingled with other dogs of a variety of breeds. Jemmy’s Dog Run on Broadway was Mischief’s favorite playground.

Keep in mind, however, that local authorities in other cities and towns independently mandate their own leash laws.

Good Dog…Healthy Dog!

New York State dog licenses are only given to pets who are fully vaccinated. Mischief’s New York State dog license—always visible around her collar—was proof to other pet owners, her groomers, and her abundant admirers that she was healthy and vaccinated. Unlike vaccinated humans, who now may carry a Covid card as proof of inoculation, a simple tag accessory suffices for pets.

Support Our Furry Friends

Not all pets are as fortunate as Mischief to be loved and well cared for throughout their lifetime. As you may have read, during the pandemic there was a spike in pet sales to locked-down individuals starving for companionship. As city folk return to their pre-pandemic schedules, many are unable to continue caring for their pets. Animal shelters everywhere are now inundated with new additions. New York State dog license fees help support these shelters, as well as neuter and spay initiatives.

Ketchum offers two basic types of New York State dog licenses (one is slightly larger than the other). All the pertinent information, including your contact details, is imprinted on the durable stainless steel tags. Given the sturdy nature of the metal, the weather-resistant, frolic-proof tags last a long time.

According to the New York City Dog Census, there are currently four dogs named Mischief in the City. And just like the late, great Mischief, each one deserves their own Ketchum New York State dog license.

Ketchum dog license tag


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