New system allows dogs to be licensed for life

December 01, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS | — Washington County residents will have the option to buy lifetime licenses for their dogs instead of renewing them every year under a new dog licensing fee schedule approved Tuesday by the Washington County Commissioners.

The new fee schedule, approved by a 3-2 vote, keeps the one-year license fee at $5, the current rate, but introduces options to buy a two-year license for $9, a three-year license for $13, or a license for the lifetime of the dog for $25.

A dog will not be eligible for a lifetime license until its initial round of rabies shots and boosters is complete, the commissioners said.

The convenience and discounts associated with multiyear licenses could encourage more dog owners to comply with the county’s licensing requirement, Paul Miller, executive director of the Humane Society of Washington County, said previously. The options will also allow owners to coordinate license renewal with their dogs’ rabies vaccination schedules, Miller has said.

Currently, dog licenses cost $5 a year for dogs that have been spayed or neutered and $15 a year for dogs that are unaltered.

The new fee schedule does not differentiate between altered and unaltered dogs.

That issue was a sticking point for Commissioner James F. Kercheval, who said it was critical to have a higher fee for unaltered dogs as an incentive for owners to have their dogs spayed or neutered.

The incentive would help prevent “a lot of the unwanted pets that we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, on average, taking care of,” Kercheval said.

The new fee schedule does have a higher licensing fee for dogs that have been deemed “vicious and dangerous” or “potentially vicious and dangerous” by the county’s animal control authority, due to attacks on people or other pets.

For dogs assigned those labels after Jan. 1, 2011, owners will pay an additional $75 a year for each potentially vicious and dangerous dog and an additional $150 a year for each vicious and dangerous dog. Those charges will help cover the cost of monitoring compliance with restrictions on those dogs, Miller has said.

The new fee schedule also allows third-party vendors, such as hardware stores and pet stores, the option of collecting a surcharge of up to $3 per license sold. Owners may buy licenses directly from the Humane Society to avoid the extra cost.

The new fees take effect Jan. 1 along with extensive revisions to the county’s animal control ordinance the commissioners passed Oct. 19.

Commissioner Kristin B. Aleshire voted against the revisions to the ordinance, saying he didn’t want vicious and dangerous dogs allowed to remain in the county. He voted against the new fee schedule Tuesday for the same reason.

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