Boise considering lowering dog license cost to boost participation

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Boise City Council’s resident animal lover is looking to make some changes to hopefully increase the number of licensed dogs. 

Last month, Boise City Council Member TJ Thomson pitched the possibility of a new system for dog licenses to get more people to sign up, and hopefully, keep them coming back to renew. Dog licenses allow the city to keep tabs on pets within city limits, whether they are spay or neutered and who owns them in case they are picked up by the Idaho Humane Society. 

[New Boise park feature will give dogs place to play in the water, off-leash]

What’s the proposal?

Under Thomson’s proposal, the city would drop the cost of a license for a pet that isn’t spayed or neutered from the current rate of $53.50 to $30. The rate for a pet that’s already spayed or neutered in most years would drop very slightly – down from $20.25 to $20. This special initiative would allow a pet owner who re-ups their license at the end of this year can renew for $10 and do so every year at this same discounted rate if they maintain the license.

The discounted rate would end if someone chooses not to continue. Thomson said this program will entice more people to get their dogs licensed and continue to do so in the future. 

“The idea is to increase the number of dogs licensed, create an incentive to maintain those licenses and continue the incentive to spay and neuter and increase the number of citizens that are renewing,” he said.

Boise’s dog license rate is currently below 20%. Thomson said few people get licenses for their pets, and the ones who do hardly ever renew them. Boise’s licensing costs are currently higher than the $13 average for surrounding Treasure Valley cities, but is only slightly more than the $18 average for Western cities of comparable population size, Thomson said. 

Council members give paw-sitive feedback

Protecting pets in Boise has been a major priority of Thomson’s during his time in office. He recently pushed for Boise City Council to pass a total rewrite of its animal cruelty code, which included clearer definitions of animal cruelty, protections for ‘good Samaritans’ who break windows to rescue dogs in hot cars and a ban on the sale of puppies out of cardboard boxes. 

He said this change to the dog license proposal was not included in that code rewrite because it was a fiscal issue so he wanted to discuss it during planning for the fiscal year 2022 budget. It was not voted on last month, but city council members signaled support and it will likely return in a more official form for a vote in August. 

City Council Member Patrick Bageant, who helped Thomson with the idea, agreed that changing the cost could incentivize more use of the program. 

“It’s definitely worth considering and it’s a smart and good way to tackle this issue that TJ’s been working on for a long time,” he said. 

City Council President Elaine Clegg said this could help get more of Boise’s pets that are not spayed or neutered to be licensed by the city so they will be more easily returned if they are lost. 

“I know there was some concern about reducing the rate for non spayed and neutered (dogs), but if you look at our license rate below 20%, it becomes very clear that the folks who haven’t spay and neutered are some of the ones staying away from the licensing. Hopefully, this will bring them in and it will bring them into a system where we do know they have this pet and this family can be encouraged to be spay and neutered if and when it makes sense.”

Correction: The original version of this story did not include the half-off incentive for owners of spayed and neutered pets to renew their license starting next year if they continue to keep up their license.

Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel is a BoiseDev reporter focused on the City of Boise, housing, homelessness and growth. Contact her at [email protected] or by phone at (757)705-8066.

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