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Jessica Ballou, Published July 20 2012

City officials remind pet owners to get licenses

FARGO – Pet owners in the metro area are getting a wake-up call from city officials in Fargo, West Fargo, Moorhead and Dilworth: License your pets.

There’s a good reason for that message.

Moorhead has registered 669 dogs and cats so far this year, and of those, only 109 cats.

West Fargo has registered 391 cats and dogs this year, and Dilworth has registered 151.

And Fargo processes an estimated 3,000 cat and dog licenses each year.

Each city requires pet owners to purchase licenses for their dogs and cats, but many owners likely aren’t aware of the ordinance, said Fargo City Auditor Steve Sprague.

To license a cat or dog, Fargo, Moorhead West Fargo and Dilworth require owners to provide current rabies vaccination records and pay various fees. Licenses are required every year.

Sprague said there are many benefits to licensing dogs and cats, even if they’re always indoors. In Fargo:

• Owners will not be subject to a $60 fine for failure to license your dog or cat.

• If the animal has a current city license, owners will not have to pay a $25 penalty if the pet is taken to the pound (you will still be responsible for the $35 impound fee and boarding fees).

• If the animal is wearing a current city license, community service officers will try to return the pet to owners before taking it to the pound.

Fargo officials are working on new software that would allow owners to register their pets online, but Sprague said that’s a few months away.

Moorhead Police Department Specialist Roxanne Dahl agreed many residents may not realize cats need to be registered. Word of mouth, especially neighbor to neighbor, has been one of the best ways to get more owners to license their pets each year, she said.

In Moorhead, there is a $30 impound fee for all animals brought to the pound. Room and board fees are an additional $15 per day for cats and $21 per day for dogs. If an animal doesn’t have a license and it’s eligible – over 16 weeks old – there is an additional $50 fine.

West Fargo Assistant Police Chief Michael Reitan said owners of unlicensed pets receive warnings if the animal is running loose, if there’s a complaint about a barking dog or if there is a call about animal neglect.

In West Fargo, if an animal is brought to the pound, licensed or not, it costs a dog owner $34.50 for one day, $54 for two days, $73.50 for three days and $93 for four days. For a cat, it’s $27.75 for one day, $40.50 for two days, $53.25 for three days and $66 for four days.

In Dilworth, Deputy Clerk Sandy Payne said the number of licensed pets seems to rise a bit each year as people see it’s for their benefit.

“I think they feel safer if animals are current (on their shots),” Payne said. “We feel better about it, too.”

Impound fees in Dilworth for animals without licenses are $25 for the first offense, $50 for the second, $75 for the third and $100 for the fourth or higher.

Cost for annual cat and dog licenses

• Fargo: $2.50 if spayed/neutered, $4.50 if not. Pick up licenses at any Fargo veterinary hospital, city animal pound or City Hall.

• West Fargo: $6 if spayed/neutered, $10 if not. Pick up licenses at Police Department.

• Moorhead: $2 if spayed/neutered, $5 if not. Pick up licenses at Police Department or on Moorhead website.

• Dilworth: $5 each. Pick up licenses at City Hall.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Jessica Ballou at (701) 235-7311