Duluth City Council seeks pet license changesThe cost of owning a dog or cat in Duluth is apt to go up if the Duluth City Council has its way.
By: Peter Passi, Duluth News Tribune
The cost of owning a dog or cat in Duluth is apt to go up if the Duluth City Council has its way.
The council passed a resolution by a 7-2 vote Tuesday calling for changes in the way Duluth licenses pets.
Councilor Jim Stauber proposes to increase the annual fee for a dog or cat license from the current $8 to perhaps $12. The city would use the additional proceeds to increase animal control staffing and make needed improvements at the city animal shelter.
Stauber also would step up enforcement of penalties for residents who fail to register cats and dogs in the city. He suggests the current $50 fine for owning an unlicensed pet be increased to create an additional incentive to comply.
Stauber believes the city could partner with local veterinarians and others in the local pet business to issue licenses on premises. Right now, people must go to the city clerk’s office to purchase dog and cat licenses.
The council stopped short of supporting a requirement that pet owners produce a license before a local cat or dog could access veterinary care. That idea was briefly entertained during a prior council discussion but ultimately was not included in the resolution passed Tuesday.
“There were worries in the veterinary community that you might not get people to come in and get needed care for their pets if you make a license mandatory,” Councilor Patrick Boyle said.
While the city licenses just shy of 3,000 dogs and cats per year — probably less than 10 percent of animals that actually live in Duluth — Stauber believes the city can do better. He contends that with active enforcement, education and outreach, 80 percent to 90 percent of animals could be licensed.
“People should know that it already is mandatory to license pets in Duluth. This is nothing new,” said Councilor Sharla Gardner, acknowledging, however, that the current ordinance isn’t very well enforced.
She also praised the idea of allowing the licenses to be issued at multiple locations.
“We’re looking at ways to make it easier for people to get licenses. Then, we’re taking the money and putting it back into our animal shelter, where it’s desperately needed,” Gardner said.
Councilors Garry Krause and Jay Fosle voted against the resolution.
Krause expressed an appreciation for the resolution’s intent but said: “I can’t support it, mainly because I’ve heard from people with a lot of concerns for people who are strapped.”
Krause said he didn’t want to place a new burden on people who are barely making ends meet.
“I don’t know that now’s the time to do this,” he said.
Fosle said he couldn’t support the resolution without knowing exactly what the license fee and fine schedule would be.
Stauber said the resolution passed Tuesday simply directs city administration to begin looking at proposed changes to the city code. He said any new fee structure would then need to win council support before it could be put in place.