FREMONT (CBS 5) – The city of Fremont is getting tough on pet owners who don’t notify the city if their animal dies or moves to a new home.

While most cities and counties request notification of a change in a pet’s status, Fremont’s Animal Care and Control Dept. requires notification. Failure to inform the city can lead to fines of up to $1,000.

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Pet owner Rochelle Oral found out about the rule the hard way. Back in April, Oral received only part of her state tax refund. The remaining $480 had been intercepted by the city of Fremont. The reason: when Oral moved from the city of Fremont to Danville four years ago “we didn’t tell Fremont that we would no longer be licensing (our dog) there,” Oral said.

A notice on the City of Fremont’s website states “pet owners are required to update the licensing department of any change in their animal’s status.” But a handful of Fremont pet owners interviewed by ConsumerWatch were all unaware of the requirement.

Susan Mundy of Fremont Animal Control said the rule’s needed to keep the city’s records up-to-date. “If our database is not updated with our current information, it becomes useless,” she said.

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Mundy also said the city sends notices when licenses are due for renewal. But Oral contended she never received the notices because they all went to her old address.

That’s not a sufficient excuse said Fremont Police Sergeant Howard Russell. “Just the fact that you moved doesn’t prevent you from having the responsibility from making that notification,“ he said.

ConsumerWatch called dozens of Bay Area cities and counties to see about their pet licensing rules. Sonoma County was the only location besides Fremont to require notification of a change in a pet’s status. But Sonoma has no penalty for failing to notify.

Oral ultimately protested her fine and it was dismissed.

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