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Pet licenses now cost more in Spokane County

Pet licensing fees in Spokane County increase substantially beginning today. People in Spokane Valley, Cheney, Millwood and unincorporated areas will pay at least 40 percent more to license pets under fees approved by the County Commission and the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service.

This is the agency’s first major fee increase in nearly 17 years, besides a $3 increase in 2002 to fund the spay and neuter voucher program, SCRAPS Director Nancy Hill said.

The latest increase will give the voucher program an additional dollar from each pet license issued. The program provides spay and neuter coupons that encourage low-income pet owners and “folks who can afford to but maybe don’t want to spend the money” to license their animals, Hill said.

Funding for the vouchers hasn’t kept up with demand, Hill said. No vouchers are available this month and none were given out in October.

“We simply ran out of money,” Hill said.

The demand for the vouchers and rising operating costs, including gasoline and personnel expenses, made the fee increases necessary, she said.

The fees don’t affect Spokane pet owners, but the city and the agency in charge of its animal control services, SpokAnimal, are considering similar fee increases.

City officials hope to consolidate city and county animal control efforts within two years, making SCRAPS the only regulatory agency. Hill said she hopes the city will adopt the same fees as SCRAPS to help the transition.

Spokane city and county require all cats and dogs to be licensed. SCRAPS has about 35,000 licenses on file, but Hill estimates at least 80,000 pets are in the county.

The agency did consider whether the fee increase might further lower compliance. “We’ve had that discussion to some extent, but the prices are still reasonable,” Hill said.

SCRAPS officials hope pet owners will recognize the benefits of giving their animals a permanent identification tag. “It’s the pet’s phone call home,” Hill said.