RALEIGH — Dog and cat owners, rejoice.
You no longer have to buy licenses for your pets. Well, from the city of Raleigh anyway.
The city ended a requirement for pet owners to renew licenses each year, part of a series of cost-saving moves in this year’s budget. The licenses were $14 for fertile pets and $7 for their sterile counterparts.
The change, which took effect Friday, does not affect state-mandated rabies vaccinations or the city’s other animal control policies.
A top goal of the pet licensing program was to allow animal control officers to contact owners of lost or unconfined pets. However, Raleigh officials found that hardly anyone complied, making the effort ineffective.
Only 4 percent of dogs and cats are licensed, according to city estimates. The city was losing money on administrative costs, though the budget office did not have a specific figure.
Wake County already requires licensing as part of rabies vaccinations. So the city abolished its program and put out a public reminder with more reliable ways that pet owners can identify their critters.
Hope Hancock, director of Wake County’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, expressed disappointment in the city’s decision. “I hate to see this go by the wayside,” she said. “It was yet another method to secure the safety of an animal...We can’t over-do identification.”
Rabies tags issued by Wake County contain unique serial numbers that can be helpful for tracking missing pets. In addition, pets can be outfitted with microchips. The city urged owners to talk with their veterinarians about options.
According to the Petfinder adoption group, the average cost to have a microchip implanted by a veterinarian is around $45, a one-time fee that often includes registration in a pet recovery database.
Hancock says microchips are an excellent way to identify pets.
“At one point in time, they were considered one of these little extraneous things,” she said. “(Now) that’s the first thing we do when we get a lost animal here. We’ve had animals returned to us from the Midwest – the microchip tracked them back to us.
“It’s not that expensive and it is very much worth it.”