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County to crack down on pet license violations

King County Regional Animal Services is cracking down on pet licensing with stricter enforcement and higher fines.

The agency is now enforcing a new no-tolerance policy, meaning animal control officers will fine pet owners with unlicensed animals on the spot.

Before, officers often issued warnings, giving pet owners a chance to license their cats or dogs before being hit with a fine, said Christine Lange, a spokeswoman for Regional Animal Services. “Now the animal control officers don’t decide,” she said.

In addition, fines for unlicensed pets were increased from $75 for all animals to $125 for spayed and neutered animals and $250 for unaltered animals. “It’s the same for dogs and cats, indoor and outdoor,” Lange said.

The new policies were created when recent cuts to King County’s general fund left the county unable to provide as much funding to Regional Animal Services. To fill the gap, it turned to 27 cities, not including Vashon, to pitch in more towards their services, and ramped up its pet licensing model.

Lange said animal services employees randomly canvass neighborhoods all over the county, including those in unincorporated areas, to check for unlicensed pets. “Canvassers themselves don’t issue fines,” she said, “but if you have a pet you refuse to license, it is always a possibility.”

On Vashon, Regional Animal Services investigates reports of nuisance pets or animal cruelty. In addition, Lange said, pet owners who license their pets are more likely to have them returned if lost.

Though some areas have local pet services, such as Vashon Island Pet Protectors, Lange said only areas with city-funded animal control departments are exempt from King County pet policies. “We value our community partners with animal shelter and care, but you still need a pet license if you’re in an unincorporated area,” she said.

Spayed or neutered pets cost $30 to register, and unaltered pets are $60. Pets can be licensed at the Vashon Community Service Center or online at www.kingcountry.gov/pets.

 

Community Events, April 2014

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