That knock at the door could be a warden checking to make sure your dog is properly licensed.
Dog wardens will canvass homes across the state over the next couple of months, stopping by to ensure dog owners have a valid license for their pets.
The license costs less than $9 depending on the type of dog and whether it is spayed or neutered.
Samantha Krepps, spokeswoman for the state's Department of Agriculture, which oversees the state Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement, said it is worth much more.
"For less than 2 cents a day, a dog license can give owners assurance that if their dog ever gets lost, he or she has a ticket home," Krepps said.
Wardens generally are assigned a canvassing area encompassing one or two Pennsylvania counties.
Owners of unlicensed dogs are subject to a $300 fine, with an additional $300 tacked on if the dog does not have a rabies vaccination.
For Gary Hoffman of Hoffman Animal Control, unlicensed dogs are a regular concern. Hoffman has the animal control contract for Penn Hills and several other east suburban communities and said he cites people every day for owning an unlicensed dog.
"Once a month, District Justice (Leonard) Hromyak schedules me for about a four-hour block of nothing but animal cases," Hoffman said. "Probably one out of 10 (dogs) might have a tag."
State dog wardens are assigned a geographic region, and, Krepps said, many have been working long enough that they're familiar with trouble spots, but they also work with animal control firms such as Hoffman's to identify areas in need of canvassing.
"They do what they can, and when they go to a home with a dog where the owner's not home, they'll leave a slip on the door with a reminder to make sure the dog is licensed," Krepps said.
Wardens are not permitted to enter a home unless invited by the owner, but they are permitted by state law to access property to observe, and Krepps said if they do see an unlicensed dog, the owner will be cited.
"If they decide they don't want to open the door, that's their prerogative," Krepps said.
Ultimately, she said, having a license is better and safer for both dog and owner.
"It's a heck of a lot cheaper to make sure your dog's licensed and has their shots," Krepps said. "It protects you as the owner."
Dog-license applications are available from your local county treasurer. Find out more online at LicenseyourdogPA. com.
Dog licensing in Lyco. county
Lycoming County Court House
48 W. Third St.
Williamsport, PA 17701
Connie L. Rupert, treasurer
Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.