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Kitsap County looks at changes to pet licensing and holds

Some pet owners in Kitsap County may have to pony up a bit more in order to license their pets in the future.

And county residents who haven’t been licensing their pets, are being asked to play by the rules.

Those changes are among the recommendations from the Animal Control Advisory Committee presented to Kitsap County commissioners earlier this week.

The nine-person county advisory committee has been working since February to prepare recommendations to streamline animal control services, increase pet licensing compliance and update fees. Currently, Kitsap County contracts with the Kitsap Humane Society for animal services, such as picking up and housing strays.

For some time, county officials have been looking at how the costs of animal control services can be brought more into equilibrium with the revenue that pet licensing generates.

According to Eric Baker, special projects manager with the county, cost are 10 times what is collected in licensing.

In fact, the work of the committee showed that many pet owners in the county don’t license their

pets, either out of neglect, or because they are confused or not aware that cities and counties require licensing.

Other reasons, according to the report, are that fees vary between cities and the county and that locations to get licenses aren’t convenient.

Baker told commissioners that the rates charged for pet licenses haven’t been raised since 2002. Commissioners opted to move forward with making changes to the county’s animal control services and pet licensing policies, including raising fees.

Commissioner Josh Brown said he thought the committee was incredibly dedicated.

“Right now the true cost of impounding or taking in a stray animal is not being paid by the irresponsible pet owner,” Brown said. “That’s being put upon the taxpayers to the tune of hundreds and hundreds of dollars annually. With these changes, responsible pet owners will be rewarded because if they lose their pet and the pet is licensed, they will pay less to get their pet back, whereas the irresponsible pet owner will pay more.”

Under the suggestions of the committee, fees for cats and dogs that are spayed or neutered and that are microchipped would not be increased. The proposed other fees reflect discounts that encourage pet owners to spay, neuter and microchip their cats and dogs.

The new fee structure includes one-year licenses at:

Dog, spayed or neutered with microchip: $10 (same as is now)

Dog, spayed/neutered without microchip: $25, up from $10

Dog not spayed/neutered with microchip: $50, up from $35, and without microchip, $60, up from $35

Cat spayed/neutered with microchip: $5 (same as now)

Cat spayed/neutered without microchip $20 (up from $5)

Cat not spayed/neutered with microchip $40, up from $35, and without microchip, $50, up from $35.

Options may be offered for three-year licenses and a lifetime license as well. Service dogs do not need to be licensed, with the appropriate papers.

Eric Stevens, executive director of the Kitsap Humane Society, said he worked with the committee in an advisory capacity and thinks the proposed fee structure will help with the costs of housing strays.

“It puts more responsibility on the pet owner instead of taxpayers,” he said. “And it identifies a revenue stream to help support animal welfare in Kitsap County.”

The committee report showed that 60 percent of animal control costs for the county are the costs spent on recovering strays. Last year, the shelter handled more than 2,700 stray animals. Of those, about 2,000 were never recovered by their owners and the society had to care for them until new homes were found. Another 2,000 pets were surrendered to the shelter because owners could no longer care for them.

Currently animals are held 96 hours for owners to claim, and then they are put up for adoption. If a pet is not spayed or neutered and is not claimed within four days, the pet is altered when ownership is taken with those costs being paid by the shelter.

One of the committee’s recommendations is to change the time frame for holding pets. Now, animals are held for four days. But the recommendation is to expand that to seven days for animals that are licensed, as a way of encouraging pets owners to license their pets.

Unlicensed dogs and cats would be held 72 hours and kittens and puppies under six months would be held 48 hours. Litters of kittens and puppies would be held just 24 hours.

The committee also said every adopted pet, from the shelter or purchased from a pet store, be licensed as a condition of adoption.

Brown said the county will move forward with the recommendations. Baker is expected to put together an action plan for the implementation of the new hold times and fee structures and those that require changes to county codes will be set for a public hearing.

To view the report go to www.kitsapgov.com, and click under commissioners tab. View the weekly agendas under Aug. 12 and look for documents.

 

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