While holiday cards are making the rounds, Juneau Animal Rescue recently sent out a season’s greetings of its own.
Dog owners throughout Juneau recently received mail reminding them it’s time to license their dogs for 2020. In the capital city, all dogs over 6 months of age that will be residing in Juneau for more than 30 days must be licensed, per City and Borough of Juneau ordinance.
“Licensing is part of public health,” said Samantha Blankenship, executive director for Juneau Animal Rescue, which is contracted by CBJ to provide animal control services. “We ensure all dogs are vaccinated against rabies.”
However, Blankenship emphasized that a dog license and rabies tag are two different things.
Beyond verifying that a dog has received a rabies vaccine, the licensing process includes collecting dog owner information that can help Juneau Animal Rescue contact a pet owner if their animal gets loose.
Blankenship said Juneau Animal Rescue has a 97% return rate for dogs it finds compared to just a 3% return rate for cats. Cats are not required to be licensed in Juneau, but Blankenship recommended having the animals microchipped or putting some sort of identifying information on the animals.
She said while many people think of microchips as GPS devices, they work more like bar codes and do not track an animal’s location. When an animal is brought into Juneau Animal Rescue, it is scanned for a chip, which then helps identify a pet’s owner.
Licensing also includes fees, and JAR is the entity that collects licensing fees and remits them to CBJ.
Fees vary and cost $20 for a neutered or spayed dog and $45 for an unaltered dog. There’s a $15 late fee for animals registered after March 31.
Despite the three-month grace period, Blankenship said it may still be in pet owners’ best financial interest to register early.
Dogs impounded without a current license can result in a citation for failure to license, which as a minimum fine of $95, according to JAR.
“If you can get that license, it’s a lot cheaper,” Blankenship said.
Elizabeth Jensen, budget analyst for CBJ, said last year those fees totaled about $82,000, which was placed into the police department’s license, permit and fees revenue.
That offsets a small portion of Juneau Animal Rescue’s contract with the city, which is worth slightly more than $1 million. Blankenship said services provided by Juneau Animal Rescue include investigating animal cruelty, licensing, welfare checks, animal control services — a 24/7 job handled by four officers — housing animals and providing those animals with medical care.
Last year, Blankenship said about 4,000 dogs were licensed in Juneau, which likely means there are a lot of doggie scofflaws out there.
“Our best estimates are we get about half of the dogs in Juneau,” Blankenship said.
However, she said her understanding is that level of compliance is respectable for a municipality.
This year she’s hoping that number will improve.
Juneau Animal Rescue will, for the first time, offer online license registration through its website.
Beyond increasing the convenience for first-time registrants, Blankenship said it will also make it easier for folks to update information on file in the event someone moves, changes their phone number or a pet passes away.
“You can update all of that online,” Blankenship said.
By the numbers
$20 That’s the cost to license a spayed or neutered dog in Juneau. It’s $45 for an unaltered dog.
50% It’s estimated about half of Juneau’s dogs are licensed as required.
$82,000 That’s the amount in fees collected by Juneau Animal Rescue for dog licensing last year. Fees are remitted to the City and Borough of Juneau.
97% In part because of licensing requirements and microchips, that’s Juneau Animal Rescue’s return rate for dogs.
6 months All dogs over 6 months in age that will reside in Juneau for more than 30 days must be licensed.
• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt