General Animal Licensing Requirements
The last Municipal Tax and User Fee Survey, done by the Association of Washington cities in 2006, showed that 218 Washington cities and towns had some kind of animal control licensing provisions. A brief MRSC survey found that 21 counties have licensing provisions either county-wide or in dog control zones. Licensing requirements vary. Some jurisdictions require only dogs be licensed, while others require licensing for both dogs and cats. Some provide for optional registration for cats.
Licensing requirement generally provide lower fee incentives for animals that have been spayed or neutered, some require it as a condition of licensing. AWC's Municipal Tax and User Fee Survey also lists dog and cat license fees charged by Washington municipalities.
As of January 1, 2012, all dogs, cats, and ferrets in Washington must have up-to-date rabies vaccines (See WAC 246-100-197). The National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV) recommends that "Local governments should initiate and maintain effective programs to ensure vaccination of all dogs, cats, and ferrets and to remove strays and unwanted animals. Such procedures in the United States have reduced laboratory confirmed cases of rabies in dogs from 6,949 in 1947 to 93 in 2009 (2). Because more rabies cases are reported annually involving cats (274 in 2009) than dogs, vaccination of cats should be required (2). Animal shelters and animal control authorities should establish policies to ensure that adopted animals are vaccinated against rabies. See Compendium of Animal Rabies Control, 2011 (), National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV).
Ordinance Provisions Requiring Animal Licenses and License Fees
See also Cat Control Provisions
- Chelan Municipal Code
- Clark County Code Ch. 8.07 - Dog Licensing
- Poulsbo Animal Licensing - All dogs and cats over the age of six months residing within the city limits of Poulsbo are required to be licensed
- Seattle Municipal Code Sec. 9.25.020 - Animal Licenses and Permits Generally - Includes potbelly pig, miniature goat, cat, and dog licenses, guard and attack dog licenses, and exotic animal permits.
- Spokane Municipal Code Sec. 10.24.010 - Licensed Required - Applies to dogs and cats over the age of six months
- Sumner Municipal Code Sec. 6.04.030 - Dog and Cat Licensing - Applies to dogs and cats seven months of age
- Wenatchee Municipal Code Ch. 5.28 - License - Animals - Provisions for dogs and cats; and requires excess license for more than three dogs or cats
- Tacoma Animal License Fees
- Thurston County Code Sec. 9.10.040 - Licensing and Registration Requirements - Applies to dogs and cats
Rabies Certification Required to License
As of January 1, 2012, all dogs, cats, and ferrets in Washington must have up-to-date rabies vaccines.
The National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV) has recommended methods or procedures which enhance rabies control. (See Adjunct Procedures in Compendium of Animal Rabies Control, 2011.)
a) IDENTIFICATION. Dogs, cats, and ferrets should be identified (e.g., metal or plastic tags or microchips) to allow for verification of rabies vaccination status.
b) LICENSURE. Registration or licensure of all dogs, cats, and ferrets is an integral component of an effective rabies control program. A fee is frequently charged for such licensure, and revenues collected are used to maintain rabies or animal control activities. Evidence of current vaccination should be an essential prerequisite to licensure.
c) CANVASSING. House-to-house canvassing by animal control officials facilitates enforcement of vaccination and licensure requirements.
d) CITATIONS. Citations are legal summonses issued to owners for violations, including the failure to vaccinate or license their animals. The authority for officers to issue citations should be an integral part of each animal control program.
e) ANIMAL CONTROL. All local jurisdictions should incorporate stray animal control, leash laws, animal bite prevention, and training of personnel in their programs.
f) PUBLIC EDUCATION. All local jurisdictions should incorporate education covering responsible pet ownership, bite prevention, and appropriate veterinary care in their programs.
Sample Rabies Vaccination Provisions
Lifetime Animal License Provisions
Some cities and towns have provided for a lifetime altered dog and/or cat license. Those noted in AWC's 2006 Municipal Tax & User Fee Survey are Aberdeen, Arlington, Asotin, Bainbridge Island, Bridgeport, Brier, Camas, Clarkston, Colton, Darrington, Enumclaw, Forks, Lake Stevens, Lynnwood, Marysville, Medina, Metaline Falls, Mill Creek, Monroe, New Castle, Ocean Shores, Port Orchard, Poulsbo, Puyallup, Sedro-Woolley, Selah, Sultan, Tieton, Tonasket, Union Town, Washougal, and Woodway. If lifetime license provisions are enacted, consideration should be given to the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians recommendations noted above for rabies control.
- Bainbridge Municipal Code Ch. 6.08 - Licensing of Dogs and Cats
- Lynnwood Municipal Code Sec. 6.02.020 (B)(2) - Licensing (Spayed or neutered cats and dogs)
- Mercer Island Municipal Code Sec. 7.04.050 - Special Permanent License - Purchase by residents 65 years of age or older
Permanent License Tags
Most jurisdictions issue new tags every time a license is renewed. A few cities issue permanent tags. An example is the City of Seattle Animal Shelter, The Tags.
Penalty Provisions for Failure to Obtain License