I must admit, I was feeling some guilt at Wednesday night’s City Council meeting. On the agenda was a new contract for service with the Kitsap Humane Society, part of which included a new “lifetime” license for cats and dogs. Owners of such pets are required to have them licensed each year.
And then it hit me. I had become a scofflaw.
My wife and I adopted Grover, our precious 007-like tuxedo cat, from the humane society in 2009. The organization was a different place then; our cat was sleeping in a litter box when we came upon him. Euthanasia rates, now at 2.5 percent, were closer to 50 percent back in those days. But I recall walking out the door with our new kitty, having licensed him for a nominal fee.
Kitsap Humane Society Executive Director Eric Stevens explained to the Council Wednesday that a new “lifetime” fee — $25 for cats and $45 for dogs — would make it easier for pet owners by eliminating a $12.50 annual fee for dogs and $7.50 for cats.
I hadn’t paid for our license since that fateful day we adopted our kitty. I didn’t know it but I was skirting the law!
Upon hearing the news, Grover — who we named for America’s 22nd and 24th president — just gave me a blank stare. I tried to convince him this was a big deal, but he wasn’t interested in much else other than a tummy rub.
My cat’s lackadaisical attitude made me wonder: what good is a pet license for him, anyway? And how many other pet owners out there had also failed to keep up their licenses?
First, take the number of cats and dogs that reside in Bremerton. While impossible to quantify exactly, Stevens said most communities average two pets per household. Thus, with 26,000 households, that puts our pet population somewhere around 52,000.
Roughly five to 10 percent of those are licensed.
“So we’ve got a little way to go on our licensing?” Councilman Dino Davis asked Stevens on Wednesday.
Stevens said that 820 licenses were issued for Bremerton pets in 2015, an increase of 63 percent. That’s still a far cry from covering all pets in the city, he acknowledged, but he anticipates the number rising higher with the new “lifetime” option. Plus, more people are choosing to adopt from shelters, and animals that leave there must be licensed, he added.
But what’s the point? Stevens said licensing makes it easier to return pets to their rightful owners if they get lost. He called it a kind of “insurance policy.”
The Council approved Wednesday a new contract with the humane society to handle animal control services. The contract, which goes through 2020, increases two percent each year, from $202,000 to almost $219,000 annually.
Licensing revenues go to the humane society, not the city. You can register your pet online here. I know I plan to get Grover properly licensed — and back within the confines of the law — myself.