Kent County Levy Court approved dog-licensing fees at its Dec. 29 meeting, and some commissioners said they want to look into placing a registration fee on felines as well. The state has ordered the counties to start taking care of dog licensing. The basic fee will be $8 for a neutered dog and $12 for a dog that hasn't been neutered.
Kent County Levy Court approved dog-licensing fees at its Dec. 29 meeting and some commissioners said they want to look into placing a registration fee on felines as well.
Murrey Goldthwaite, director of the Kent County SPCA, said cats make up more than 60% of the animals that are taken into the group’s shelter each year. The shelter also euthanizes more cats every year than any other animal.
“There is no identification or tracking required for cats,” Goldthwaite told commissioners.
Currently, state codes prohibit the county from placing a licensing fee on cats, Commissioner Brad Eaby said, noting the state had turned over dog licensing to the county in July because of the expense of the program.
The dog-licensing fees have not changed in more than 30 years, and Levy Court President P. Brooks Banta said the fees will partially offset the cost of the county’s contract with Kent County SPCA.
The county will pay the SPCA — which was the sole bidder for the dog-licensing contract — $491,127 to handle dog control, licensing and enforcement for the rest of the fiscal year. For the 2011 fiscal year, the county will pay approximately $891,000 for these services.
Without the fees, the county would need to raise property taxes or cut funds to other organizations, such as the Modern Maturity Center and fire companies, to pay for the program, Banta said.
“What has been proposed is equitable and fair,” Banta said. “This was not our choice to make. This choice was made for us by the state.”
Dog owners can receive a license for their pet until March 1, and after that date, people will be assessed a 25% late surcharge on the license. Dogs must receive a rabies vaccine before being licensed and a metal dog tag will be issued with the license.
People will be charged a $75 to $100 fine if they are caught with an unlicensed dog, and Goldthwaite said the SPCA will have agents going “door to door” to inform people of the policy and make sure dogs get licensed.
The state allowed counties to charge a maximum of $10 for a neutered dog and $15 for an unneutered dog for a one-year license, and Goldthwaite said Sussex and New Castle counties chose to charge this fee.
“Kent County tried not to increase the fees, which is commendable,” he added.
Steven Artz, a pet owner who lives in Smyrna, said dogs receive a tag from the state when they get a rabies shot and asked why the two services couldn’t be combined in one fee.
Eaby said the vaccines are handled by another agency and that service has not been turned over to the county at this time.
In the future, Commissioner Allan Angel said the Levy Court should look into some type of fee for cats and send a letter to state representatives, asking for help in funding the dog-licensing program.
The licensing fees passed by a 5-1 vote. Commissioner Harold Brode voted against the fees, saying he disapproved of unfunded mandates and wanted to send the measure back to the state. Commissioner Richard Ennis was not present at the meeting.
FEES FOR A ONE-YEAR DOG LICENSE
$8 for a neutered dog
$12 for an unneutered dog
FEES FOR A THREE-YEAR DOG LICENSE
$20 for a neutered dog
$30 for an unneutered dog