TRUMBULL COUNTY Canvassers put a tight leash on unlicensed-dog owners

It's better than working in a factory, dog license checkers say.
WARREN -- After clocking in at the county pound, Bernadette Skruck and three compatriots clamber into a gray Chevrolet Caprice with county plates.
Before the day is over, they will have walked several miles, banged on hundreds of doors and asked, dozens of times, "Do you have any dogs?"
"Why, did you lose one?" Jane Earnest of Lynwood Drive asked the T-shirt clad Skruck when the Ohio University junior knocked on her door.
Not exactly. Since June 11, Skruck and her co-workers have been on a summer-long mission from the Trumbull County Dog Warden to find unlicensed dogs, issue warnings, and, it is hoped, raise money in dog license fees.
Sold out: The dog warden says he does not yet have figures on how many licenses they have sold. Local venders, however, have been selling out of licenses as canvassers move through an area and word spreads.
Andrews Shopping Center, in Howland, was the first.
"If they were out for nine months, you would really ring in the money," said Robert Campana, the dog warden.
The county revived the practice of sending summer employees out this year, after a two-year hiatus, during which the number of annual licenses sold dropped by 20 percent, to about 16,000. The licenses cost $8 a piece before January, but now dog owners face a late fee, bringing the price up to $16.
Easy work: As summer jobs go, canvassing for deadbeat dog owners is not too bad. The pay is $7.50 per hour.
"All my friends are making minimum wage and they are working in a factory or a mall," said Skruck . "I'm outside all day, I get to wear comfy clothes and T-shirts."
So far, none of the canvassers has been chased off with shotguns or bitten by dogs. They rely on polite manners and a county photo ID for protection against people, and common sense -- no Mace -- when it comes to dogs.
"We asked them for it," said Colin Nutt, a junior at Teal College. "They didn't think that we needed it."
As the four canvassers hoof from door to door, their supervisor, Danielle White, watches from the car. If things go well, White, a sophomore studying criminal justice at Westminster College, gets in a little studying from "Teach Yourself To Pass Law Enforcement Exams," which rides with her on in the front seat of the Caprice.
Ramifications: The canvassers leave notices at houses when no one is home. Dog owners who can't immediately produce a license are told to get one and phone its number into the dog warden's office three days, or they could find themselves in front of a judge, Campana said.
Unlicensed dog owners nabbed in Warren on Wednesday took the episode in good humor. Several said they were expecting the crew; one long-time dog owner said he hasn't bought a license for the last year or two because no one had come around to remind her.
"I have one question for you," said John Demko, who lives with his 14 year-old dog Baby on Comstock Street Northwest. "I would like to know why you don't do this for a cat."

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