In the Puget Sound area, as in most of the United States, purchasing a city-issued pet license for your dogs, cats, and other domestic animals is a mandatory and responsible part of being a pet owner. However, average national licensing rates sit at just 12%, with annual renewal rates frequently far below 50%.
What’s the problem, and why is it so important?
For cities, pet license fees (averaging around $10 – $20 per animal) are a massive financial contributor to city-run animal shelters and life-saving animal services, a fact that isn’t widely known. Free spay and neuter programs? Funded by licenses. Discounted vaccines for your dogs and cats? Thanks to those who license their animals. The Seattle Animal Shelter? Their tremendous work towards their no-kill goal would see a boost from increased licensing revenue.
For pet owners, there are also huge benefits to licensing your animals. If a missing dog or cat is licensed, it will be reunited with its family 90% of the time (and within 48 hours); sadly, if a pet is unlicensed and becomes lost, they make it home just 20% of the time. Most pet owners would be devastated if such a loved member of the family went missing, but few realize that a license is their pet’s “free ride home.” Combined with the fact that shelters have longer boarding times for licensed animals, as well as the potential for getting hit with a multi-hundred dollar fine for each unlicensed pet in a household, it seems like a no-brainer to purchase and renew pet licenses annually.
So why don’t people license their animals? The biggest reason is that a low percentage of people are aware that city and county ordinances mandate doing so. Municipalities across the country lack the time, resources, and budget necessary to reach the owners of over 100 million unlicensed pets in the U.S., and most private shelters don’t have the time to spend walking new pet owners through the local licensing process.
Perhaps most importantly, a large majority of municipal licensing programs rely on old-fashioned, brick-and-mortar paper forms that can only be filed via mail or in person at specific locations. The process is out-of-date, cumbersome, and time consuming, and renewal notices sent in the mail are often quickly discarded as junk. Further complicating the process, each jurisdiction has specific requirements (like proof of spay/neuter, microchip number, or rabies vaccination number) that change from county to county.
Each year, more than four million of the eight million animals that enter shelters in the U.S. are euthanized, and even small increases in licensing rates can dramatically alter this reality. To help solve this problem, a new breed of tech startups is stepping up to bring pet licensing and other animal-related software into the 21st century.
In Seattle, our company created Pawzii.com, a website where Puget Sound area pet owners can license their animals with the proper jurisdiction in under two minutes from any computer or smartphone – and at no added cost. The idea is that by making the process convenient, fast, and mobile, Pawzii lets citizens license their animals without headaches or time waste, and it works – Pawzii partner counties see upwards of a 202% increase in licensing rates.
Part of being a responsible pet owner is licensing your animal with your city or county. It directly contributes funding to animal shelters and other critically important city animal care, and it nearly guarantees the safe and speedy return of a missing pet.
First Published in Mar/Apr 2015 Pet Connection Magazine www.petconnectionmagazine.com