Pet Licensing

By: Philip Stewart
By: Philip Stewart

February 20, 2006

A law in Virginia says cats and dogs must be registered. Monday the Virginia senate passed a bill aimed at enforcing this law.

"There are plenty of people out there that say, well I have proof of vaccine and that's all I want to have," said Richard Freedman, a veterinarian at Albemarle Veterinary Health Care Center.

The vaccine Freedman is referring to is for rabies. When a pet is vaccinated, the owner receives a certificate, which is required if you want to register a dog or cat in Virginia. Legislators want to crack down on owners who are not licensing their animals.

"Owners are not taking that piece of paper and registering the dog because they don't want to pay the fee," said Freedman.

Now they may be forced to pay the fee. Each month vets will have to report animals that receive a rabies vaccine.

"They are now going to require the veterinarian to supply the documentation and then they will bill the owner, kind of like the personal property tax," said Freedman.

It's a way of making sure pet owners are following the law. An increase in licenses will mean more money for the state. It's money that will likely be spent on animal care.

"That money goes to support the salary of the dog wardens or animal control officers," said Freedman.

However, there is a problem. If owners don't vaccinate their pets at all, the state won't even know the pet exists. Freedman says the bill may not make much of a difference.

"People that take care of their pets come regardless of whether there's going to be a stronger enforcement policy."

However, Doctor Freedman says a benefit of the new rule is that it would be easier to track rabies vaccines. That could be especially useful since rabies infections are on the rise in local counties.

The bill was narrowly passed today by a vote of 6 to 5.

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