Duluth City Council considers significant increases to pet feesBailing an unlicensed, non-sterilized pet out of Duluth’s animal shelter will cost you $350 if the Duluth City Council approves a new set of fees designed to encourage licensing, sterilization and vaccinating of pets.
By: Steve Kuchera, Duluth News Tribune
Bailing an unlicensed, non-sterilized pet out of Duluth’s animal shelter will cost you $350 if the Duluth City Council approves a new set of fees designed to encourage licensing, sterilization and vaccinating of pets.
Proceeds raised by the fees would go to increase animal control staffing and make needed improvements at the shelter at 2627 Courtland St.
“We haven’t increased fees in quite a while,” said Councilor Jim Stauber, who is introducing the resolution this month.
“I am not warm to ever-increasing fees, but the fact is that those fees can be reduced” by having pets licensed, sterilized and vaccinated against rabies, he said. “And the money would go to the shelter, which has been woefully underfunded.”
The city estimates that the 3,000 dogs and cats it licenses each year represent about 5 percent of the pets in Duluth.
Stauber said he and others hope that offering a break in penalties for
licensed animals will encourage owners to license their pets.
Pet owners pay $8 a year to license a pet. Under the proposed ordinance, owners would pay $10 to license a “compliant” pet — one that is sterilized and vaccinated against rabies. For animals that are not sterilized, new license fees would range up to $75. The city would issue licenses to “properly identified” service dogs at no cost.
The fees proposed for impounded animals are also structured to encourage licensing, sterilizing and vaccinating pets. The impound fee for a compliant animal would be $25. The fee for noncompliant animal would be $350, and the quarantine fee for a noncompliant animal would be $500.
While license fees would be higher under the proposed resolution, people whose pets don’t end up in the shelter “will not be very much affected by a lot of these fees,” animal shelter lead worker Carrie Lane said.
The extra money in higher impound fees would help improve the shelter and the care of the animals it houses, Stauber said. Studies recommend shelters the size of Duluth’s have six employees, he said.
“We are under three,” Stauber said.
“Our staffing level is extremely low for a city our size and for how many animals we handle and calls we have,” Lane said. “Our hours are limited because of that.”
“A more modern or updated facility would benefit the animals greatly,” she said.
In addition to caring for about 1,200 animals a year, the city’s animal control officers spend “a lot of time on calls where we are not impounding animals, but we’re resolving nuisance animal calls and neglect and abuse calls,” Lane said.
“We’re supportive and appreciate the councilor’s efforts to support animal control, public safety and animal welfare in the community,” she said.
Stauber has worked on animal issues for several years, and on this issue for months. In November, on a 7-2 vote, the City Council called for changes in the way Duluth licenses pets. That led to discussions resulting in the current proposal.
“I’m finally hoping to wrap it up in the next month or so,” Stauber said.
On Thursday, Stauber told the council at its agenda session that he would table the resolution for Monday’s regular City Council meeting in order to allow the council time to consider all the new aspects of the proposed licensing.