For Eco-Tip 3/31/19 Pet License Amnesty, Options, and Reasons
By David Goldstein, Ventura County Public Works Agency
Animal licensing can help reunite you with a lost pet, and although licensing is not as effective as having a microchip implanted under your pet’s skin, licensing has additional advantages. Importantly, a license proves your pet is vaccinated against rabies. This is crucial if your animal ever bites or scratches someone. Victims of animal attacks can be reassured and calmed if the animal is licensed, but if it is not licensed, the animal control protocol for response to a biting incident is to quarantine the animal and observe them for signs of rabies, according to Randy Friedman, Marketing Manager at Ventura County Animal Services. Licensing is also the law, with penalties for the owner of any unlicensed dog “owned, rescued, or harboured” in Ventura County for 30 days or longer, according to the Ventura County Animal Services web site. In addition to the requirement for licensing dogs, the city of Oxnard also requires licensing of cats. Both of the two major animal shelters in Ventura County practice “no kill” policies. The Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center, which began this policy first, follows an inspirational motto, “Every animal gets a second chance at life,” according to Nicky Gore-Jones, the Executive Director. This is almost regardless of cost to the shelter, which, she says, receives less than ten percent of its revenue from the city and relies instead on non-profit fund raising. Last year, animals at the Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center, including a dog on chemotherapy, racked up $300,000 in medical bills. One arthritic dog, which recently found a new home, has been receiving acupuncture treatments. The Ventura County Animal Shelter similarly depends on a non-profit foundation for extraordinary care and also has a “no kill” policy; they do not euthanize pets simply for being unwanted, unhealthy, unmanageable, or based on how full they are with animals already in their care. They euthanize animals only after a veterinarian determines such action is justified by the animal’s extreme medical condition and suffering, according to Friedman. Consequently, failure to license will not result in your dog being killed at a local animal shelter, but Gore-Jones, of the Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center, has heard cases of dogs being taken from or wandering out of Ventura County. The additional holding period some shelters outside the county give to licensed dogs has saved their lives. During the month of April, Ventura County Animal Services is offering a pet licensing amnesty, forgiving all past license fees and late penalties when pet owners renew or license their pets. The amnesty is partly inspired by an urgent need to vaccinate pets against rabies. There were 11 confirmed rabies cases in bats tested by the shelter in 2018. Rabies is deadly and can be transferred to both animals and humans. To participate in license amnesty, obtain a rabies vaccination for your pets and bring the proof of the vaccination to either the shelter in Camarillo or Simi Valley in the month of April.
Alternatively, you can license online at www.vcas.us/license, uploading the proof of rabies vaccination. The cost of a one-year license ranges from $7.50 to $100, with rates varying based on city and age of the pet owner. Lower yearly rates are available for some threeyear licenses. Animal Services offers $10 vaccination clinics at a different location each month throughout Ventura County. The Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center never charges for a first-time registration, regardless of the animal’s age. Licenses cost $75 for an unaltered animal and $20 for spayed or neutered pets. The Santa Paula Shelter has a $20 spay and neuter clinic, and licensed animals are also eligible for a $20 microchip. Licensing in Oxnard is different. If you come in with a pet needing licensing, and it is obvious the pet is over a year old, Oxnard assesses fees for up to three unlicensed years. You can eliminate this fee by showing proof the animal lived previously outside the city. This proof can include bills for veterinarian care outside the city, or, of course, a license from another jurisdiction. For dogs and cats, fees are $100 for unaltered animals and $20 for spayed or neutered pets. Licensed pets qualify for spay or neuter vouchers, providing $60 for dogs or $50 for cats.