Dogged by costs, Island County ups license, impound fees

Island County commissioners will consider an ordinance Monday that increases dog license fees and the cost of getting a pooch out of doggy jail.

Betty Kemp, manager of the general services department, said the increases are based on a survey of what other jurisdictions charge for dog tags and the redemption of lost dogs at animal shelters. She said the proposed charges would put the county’s fees in the middle of the pack. In addition, she said the increase would bring the county slightly closer to recovering the cost of providing animal control.

The commissioners will hold a public hearing to consider the ordinance that increases the charges during their 2 p.m. meeting Feb. 27. If it is adopted, as expected, it will go into effect three days later.

The fees for a dog license, springing an impounded dogs or surrendering an unwanted dog haven’t changed since 1999.

The proposal would increase the cost of purchasing a required dog license from $7 to $10 for neutered or spayed canines and from $25 to $50 for intact pooches.

For lost dogs that end up at the shelter, the cost of redemption would jump. The impound fee would increase for $25 to $50 and the daily boarding fee increases from $7 to $10. The impound fee would double to $100 for the second dog impoundment within a year and $200 for third and subsequent impoundments.

In addition, Kemp said the ordinance was simplified to take out late penalties and discounts for senior citizen dog owners, while some language was cleaned up.

Kemp said she’s also been working with officials in other county departments in an effort to allow people to purchase dog licenses online, possibly at the county’s website. The hope is that more people will comply with the ordinance if it’s easier.

Kemp previously estimated that there’s at least 10,000 dogs in unincorporated areas of the county. Since only a small percentage of dog owners purchase licenses, the county is missing out on thousands of dollars a year that could be used to offset the costs of keeping animals healthy and happy at the shelters.

Currently, dog licenses can be purchased at the Whidbey Animals’ Improvement Foundation shelters in Oak Harbor or south of Coupeville, at the county treasurer’s office in Coupeville and of four different veterinarian offices on Whidbey. The dog owner has to show proof that his or her dog received a rabies vaccination.




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