Opinion

Editorial: Make your dog legal

It’s the law in Island County and Oak Harbor that dog owners must license their animals. But it’s one of the most ignored laws on the books; one that even the most upstanding citizens forget about or procrastinate over, year after year.

Now is the time for all of dog owners to change their ways and pony up for the required dog tag. In the present economic climate, our animals are hurting, too, and the best way to assure adequate animal control and care is through the existing licensing programs. In Oak Harbor, it should be noted, even cats are required to be licensed.

Licenses are just part of the cost of being a responsible pet owner, and it’s a reasonable cost at that. In Island County, a dog license for a neutered canine is only $7, while it’s $25 for an intact mutt. In Oak Harbor, a dog or cat license is $10 for a neutered animal, or $35 for a dog or cat that is not neutered.

The big question in both Island County and Oak Harbor is how to convince people to purchase licenses for their animals. It is estimated that of the 10,000 dogs in Island County, fewer than 2,000 are licensed. The ratio is Oak Harbor is probably similar.

A quick Google search shows that others cities are struggling with this issue. In an example we don’t want to follow, the Los Angeles City Council last week told its meter readers to record dog sightings so the property owner can be billed for a license. Though too “Dogwellian” for islanders, this strategy does show how seriously the issue is being taken elsewhere.

Volunteerism always works best on Whidbey Island. The county and city should include licensing information in utility and property tax bills, and perhaps Whidbey Animals’ Improvement Association or 4-H Club volunteers could sell them outside of grocery stores for a small piece of the action.

The vast majority of Whidbey Islanders are good citizens fully committed to obeying the law. All they need is regular reminders of the law that requires the licensing of dogs and cats.

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