Pet owning scofflaws will have the month of May to start obeying dog and cat licensing rules.
Spokane Mayor David Condon and the county’s regional animal control director on Monday announced a pet license amnesty program allowing those without licenses to get them without having to pay a late fee.
“By licensing your pet you are increasing their safety,” Condon said.
Cats and dogs older than 6 months are required to have a license and be registered with Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service, 6815 E. Trent Ave.
Annual license fees are $15 for a spayed or neutered cat and $25 for a nonsterilized cat.
For dogs, the cost is $25 a year for a sterilized pet and $50 a year for an unsterilized animal.
Failure to license a pet is a civil infraction carrying a $200 fine. SCRAPS Director Nancy Hill said at least a few hundred infractions are issued annually.
The amnesty program will waive a $20 late fee.
Licensees also are eligible for a $40 voucher to cover sterilization. Seniors are eligible for an additional discount of $5 for one cat and $10 for one dog.
The sterilization program helps keep down the unwanted-pet population, and officials are constantly seeking to improve licensing compliance as a way of controlling pet populations.
Shortly before the mayor announced the amnesty program, a young husky dog was brought into the shelter after it had apparently run away from home. A license would have gotten the animal back to the owner quickly, Hill said.
SCRAPS has 54,943 licensed animals: 38,840 dogs and 16,103 cats.
According to a national formula, the Spokane area is estimated to have more than 225,000 cats and dogs.
That means that only 24 percent of cats and dogs are licensed.
Only 3 percent of cats that are picked up or turned in are reunited with their owners. For dogs, that number is 62 percent, Hill said.
Licensing is instrumental in reuniting pets and owners, often without the pet ever going to the shelter. The registration number on the license allows animal control staff to get the pet home.
A license, Hill said, “is definitely the biggest gift you give your pet.”
SCRAPS serves most of Spokane County, including nine of its 13 cities. Waverly, Latah, Spangle and Airway Heights do not participate in the regional system, which formed just over three years ago.
Licenses can be purchased in person at Spokane City Hall, SCRAPS, Spokane Humane Society, SpokAnimal, Popular Companions in Liberty Lake or at outreach events put on by animal control.
Licenses can also be obtained online through SCRAPS.
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