Why you don’t need to license your dog or cat in Cary any more

Cary has become the latest Triangle community to stop licensing cats and dogs.

The town had required licenses since 1982, keeping a database to help reunite lost pets with their owners and requiring them for dog park registration.

But as of July 1, the town has stopped requiring license tags because more people are protecting their pets with under-the-skin microchips.

The chips, about the size of a grain of rice and implanted in the scruff of the neck, can be scanned for a number that connects animals back to their owners.

At Thursday’s Cary Town Council meeting, Councilwoman Jennifer Robinson said the town needs to publicize the recent change.

The town estimates:

fewer than 5% of the domestic animals Cary Animal Control encounters are licensed and tagged

75% are microchipped

License tags brought in under $10,000 in revenue per year, with around 900 administered annually. “The administrative costs of the program far exceed the revenue collected,” a town report noted.

Cary residents usually learned of the license requirement while purchasing a dog-park pass at a community center.

Although there will no longer be public-mandated identification of your pets, the town will still require proof of rabies vaccination to register for annual dog park memberships. N.C. law requires rabies tags be displayed on pets at all times.

Rabies shots, microchips

Here are low-cost options for rabies vaccinations and microchips in the Triangle.

Wake County

Rabies vaccination: $5

Microchips: $10

Low-cost clinic on Sept. 14 at Sugg Farm in Holly Springs

Orange County

Rabies vaccination: $10

Microchips: $35

Low-cost clinic on Sept. 28 at Efland-Cheeks Community Park in Mebane

Pet licenses in the Triangle

Cary’s decision follows Raleigh’s discontinuing pet licenses seven years ago. Wake County also has no license or tag requirements.

Durham County ended licenses in 2013, only five years after requiring them.

Other areas of the Triangle continue licensing.

In 2010, Orange County began requiring an annual fee based on where the owner lives and whether the animal is sterilized.

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Trent Brown covers the Town of Cary and other odds and ends. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2019 and is a Collegiate Network fellow.