Kansas City officials have known for years that far too few residents properly license their pets, as the city requires.
In an effort to boost compliance — and raise vital funds to improve the animal shelter — the city is reducing some of its licensing fees as of Sunday.
“The city’s animal shelter receives more than 5,000 lost or abandoned animals annually,” David Park, Neighborhood and Community Services director, said in a statement. “Many of the animals are owned pets, but without a license tag, there is no way to contact the owner.”
The licenses are required annually for all pet dogs, cats or ferrets. But the city says only 17 percent of the estimated 116,000 dogs within city limits are licensed, and only 3 percent of the estimated 131,000 cats.
So as of Sunday, all one-year pet licenses will be $10, whether the pet is neutered or not. In the past, the city charged more for non-neutered pets. Three-year pet licenses are $27.
In another change, the city will provide a free “ride home” program. If animal control officers pick up licensed pets that become lost or stray, and can reach the owner, the city will take the pets home instead of to the shelter one time per year.
“The free ride home program is a great deal,” said Councilman John Sharp, chair of the council’s Public Safety Committee. “This adds a lot of value to having your pet licensed. Everybody’s dog is at risk of getting loose periodically.”
Under that program, no ticket would be issued for a licensed pet running at large, and no shelter fee would be assessed if the owner was home when the animal was returned. Half fees would be assessed if the owner could not be located and the pet was reclaimed from the shelter, at 4400 Raytown Road.
Pet owners can license their pets at the shelter or by going online topetdata.com
. Twenty-two vets in the city also sell the licenses directly, and the city is encouraging more vets to join the program.
All revenue generated from the fees will go toward improving animal control and the shelter.