Wilmington Town Clerk’s Office Explains Dog Registration & Process Surrounding Late Fees & Fines

Below is a notice from the Wilmington Town Clerk’s Office regarding dog registrations, late fees, and fines:

We in the Office of Town Clerk understand that there has been great consternation about the fines that have been issued for failure to register dogs over the past couple of weeks. Unfortunately, it seems that with that consternation has come misinformation.

Therefore, we think it important to provide some background and information about the process we have used for dog registration, both in the distant past and for the past couple of years.

In past years, dog registration forms were sent with each census form mailed out. We mail approximately 12,000 census forms annually, and have approximately 2,500 dog owners, thus this process was expensive, inefficient, and actually caused confusion amongst non-dog owners, who would call to make sure the Clerk’s office knew they DID NOT have a dog.

To save money, reduce confusion, and be more efficient, we stopped sending registration forms with each Census Form in 2020. Instead, dog owners were sent reminder notices directly, by email to those we had email addresses for, and by regular mail for those we did not.

In 2020, all late fees and fines were waived due to COVID. However, as we have been back in the office full time serving the public by meeting them at the front door, at our office window, by phone, through the mail and online since June of 2020, fees were re-implemented for the 2021 Dog Registration season.

In 2021, multiple means of reminding owners about dog registration were used. In addition to the citation notices sent out by regular mail in June 2021, registration reminders were sent by email and mail (depending on the information we had for each dog owner) in December and May. Notices about dog registration, due dates, late fees and the potential for institution of noncriminal fines were placed in the January and April Town Topics newsletters. Finally, registration reminders were noted on the January 2021 Town Calendar page, and on the Rotary sign board from January 28 through February 11, 2021.

It should be noted that in the prior years, no individual reminders were sent prior to the addition of the late fee after March 31, nor prior to the mailing of the citations on June 1. Both of these measures are part of the Inhabitant Bylaws of the Town of Wilmington, having been approved at Town Meeting.

While we will certainly review our dog registration process to attempt to improve it next year, at the very least by sending more frequent reminders, it should be noted that ultimately, the burden of registering one’s dog is a matter of Massachusetts state law and the Inhabitant Bylaws of the Town of Wilmington. We are always here to provide guidance, answer questions, and deal with specific situations of individual dog owners as they arise.

Please reach out to us by phone at 978-658-2030, or by email to townclerk@wilmingtonma.gov with any questions.

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One thought

  1. I paid my dog registration on time paid on 3/17/21, and still received a $75.00 citation in the mail! I had to go there with proof in order for the citation to be removed. Need better record keeping here!

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