NORTH HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Many communities count on dog owners to get their pets licensed. But a Long Island town is considering counting the pooches itself.

Newsday reports that North Hempstead officials are studying whether to conduct a door-to-door dog census.

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Town Clerk Wayne Wink says he thinks there are many more dogs in town than the 5,000 that are licensed.

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“Here in the town of North Hempstead, we are very dog friendly, but the numbers are slowly diminishing in the number of licensing that is occurring and so we aren’t sure why that is,” Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth told CBS2’s Meg Baker.

Currently, 4,800 dogs are licensed in the town of 226,000, Baker reported.

Getting a license isn’t difficult, Baker reported. You can fill out a form at your local shelter or go straight to the town clerk. Costs ranges $7-$15.

If you are unable to get your animal to a shelter to get a license, the shelter will also come to you if you call 311 to request them.

The director of the North Hempstead Animal Shelter, Jenna Givargidze, said licensing is a matter of public safety.

“It is New York state law, to get a New York state license to confirm and verify that dog owners were getting their dogs vaccinated for rabies,” she said.

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Seventy-five percent of dogs picked up by the shelter are not licensed, making it difficult to return lost pets to their homes.

“Any dog that comes in here with a valid license is returned to its owner,” Givargidze said.

The dog lovers CBS2 spoke with are all for the idea.

“If my dog went missing, I would be devastated, so anything that I can do that would help having the dog registered, has a chip, health records, to make sure I don’t lose him,” Joel Goodman said.

“Everyone who comes to this yard treats their dog like princes, everyone should license their dog absolutely,” Bob Farkas said.

In North Hempstead, Public Safety Commissioner Andrew DeMartin says the town’s decision will depend on the availability of technology to track dogs better and accept licensing forms.

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