Achieving Balance and Harmony

DOG CARE

5 Reasons to Get Your Dog Licensed

By Nicole Pajer

Being a dog owner requires all sorts of responsibility. One that is often overlooked is registering your dog with your city government and getting him licensed. In the city of San Francisco alone, for example, only 16 percent of dogs are estimated to be licensed. Failing to license your dog can hinder your chances of getting him back if picked up by the pound and can get you in trouble with the law.

If the above isn't reason enough for you to properly register your dog, here are a few more reasons why you should:

1. It's the law. In most states, it's mandatory that dog owners have their pets licensed. If you get caught without a license, which can and does happen, you will be hit with a hefty fine. Dogs must have a renewed license each year, which must be displayed on them at all times.

2. If your dog goes missing, having him licensed drastically improves your chances of getting him back. A license tag helps animal control and shelters quickly identify your dog and get him back to you safely. If your dog is found wandering the streets, a rescue organization can easily look up your dog via its license identifying number. Dogs that are licensed tend to be kept at the shelter longer than unlicensed dogs, which are the first to be euthanized if their owners do not quickly claim them.

3. The cost of the license is far less than the penalty for being caught without one. If a city official finds your dog without a license, you can end up paying a fee of up to $250! In addition, some cities consider owning an unlicensed dog to be a class IV misdemeanor.

4. Licensing lets people know that your dog is up to date on its rabies vaccinations. A dog cannot be licensed unless it is properly vaccinated. Animal control or a Good Samaritan will be much more likely to want to handle and care for your missing pup if they know that it is healthy and sans rabies.

5. License fees support the efforts of many local animal shelters. Typically, the annual fee that you pay to license your dog helps to keep shelters running and supports the work of your local animal control. By paying to properly ID your dog, you are helping to feed and house stray dogs found on the streets within your city.

Average cost of licenses

The average price of an annual dog license is $10 to $20. Dog owners can expect to pay more to license a dog that has not been spayed or neutered.

Some dog owners may be eligible for a discounted licensing fee:

  • Service dogs and dogs trained to be guide or signal dogs are usually free to license
  • Some states offer a "lifetime license," which is a one-time payment that covers a dog at a discounted rate throughout its lifetime.
  • Breeders or owners of many dogs may be able to apply for a "kennel license" that will apply to all of their dogs within a certain volume

Where to get your dog licensed

Head to your nearest city our county licensing department. Many cities offer the option to apply for a license by mail. Existing licenses can often be renewed by credit or debit card online.

What is required to get a license?

  • In order to apply for a dog license, you must provide a certificate showing that your dog is up to date with its rabies vaccinations.
  • Dogs over four months and older must be licensed.
  • If you license your dog in one city and then move to another, you may need to apply for a new license. Check with your licensing department for more information.
  • What are the dog licensing requirements where you live? Share it with us in the comments below.

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