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Column: Complying with pet laws is part of responsible pet ownership

For many, the new year is a time for reflecting on the past and planning for the future. After checking my mail recently, I was reminded that for pet owners, another important task takes place each year: renewing their pets' licenses. Although th...

For many, the new year is a time for reflecting on the past and planning for the future.
After checking my mail recently, I was reminded that for pet owners, another important task takes place each year: renewing their pets’ licenses.
Although this may not be the most exciting part of the year - and most likely ranks up there with waiting in line at the DMV for car registration, or preparing annual taxes - renewing your pet’s license is an important part of responsible pet ownership (and you need not stand in line: you may just mail it in).
Beginning this year, area cat and dog owners will notice that there have been some changes to the program.
On Dec. 1, 2013, Duluth implemented an updated licensing program designed to increase public safety and keep companion animals protected. This improved program offers new benefits, including a free first ride home for found animals, a fee waiver for owners retrieving a lost pet within 24 hours, and the option to purchase a lifetime license.
The city animal shelter, a division of the police department, was formerly called “animal control” and many people confused it with Animal Allies. Some people used the word “shelter” to refer to both locations, so a new name was created for the city of Duluth’s division. The department that deals with loose pets in the city of Duluth is now called Duluth Animal Services.
“If the pet is wearing its tag, we will drive it home if someone is at home,” said Carrie Lane of Animal Services. “If you have an animal that you don’t want to spay or neuter, it is important to get it licensed,” added Lane.
If the animal is physically wearing the license on its collar, the first-time reclaim fine can be waived if the animal is found loose. And the reclaim fine is $350 for an unaltered pet. (Lane said that unaltered pets are more likely to run loose than altered pets.)
If your pet has its rabies vaccine and is spayed or neutered, the cost to license a pet is $60 for a lifetime license, or $10 a year for an annual licence. The annual cost for an unaltered pet is $75.
And if your unaltered pet ever gets loose and is found by Duluth Animal Services, the $75 license fee will be a lot less than the $350 reclaim fine … and your pet will get a free ride home.
Proceeds from license fees will now be used to support services provided by the City of Duluth Animal Services, directly benefiting the city’s animals. And, with reduced license fees for altered animals current on their rabies vaccinations, owners are encouraged to participate in beneficial practices such as vaccinating and spaying or neutering their pets.
The above are all excellent reasons for pet owners to comply with the new licensing regulations in the City of Duluth. If you need one more reason, remember: it is also the law.
Pet licenses are available for purchase at the City Clerk’s office and participating veterinary clinics.
Learn more about the revised pet license program by visiting duluthmn.gov/clerk/permits/petlcnse.cfm.
Questions or concerns should be addressed by contacting the City of Duluth Animal Services at 218-390-8065.

Amy Miller is the marketing and communications manager for Animal Allies Humane Society. She lives in Duluth with her husband and three adopted pets: dogs Maverick and Goose, and a cat named Buddy Love.

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