by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
My husband and I added the sweetest little guy to our family this week. He is a golden retriever puppy named Parker (see above). When we were going over the expenses we needed to pay (The AKC fees, the pet deposit for the apartment we live in, etc.), my husband was shocked to hear me say we needed to pay the pet license. Turns out they don’t have those where he’s from in rural Mississippi. Maybe they don’t have them in your town either; if not, a pet license is a small yearly fee paid to your local government for the privilege of adopting your favorite fluffy family member.
When I went online to find out how much the license was (which my county of Cumberland called a “pet privilege permit”), I learned that they had done away with the policy. They had done this for two reasons. One, the fee was not bringing in enough revenue to justify the “amount of labor, the cost of mailing, postage and fees [to their] database company.” And two, “Animal Services found the licensing requirement to be a disincentive for people getting their pets vaccinated against rabies.”
I can certainly say I know folks who have not brought their dog to the vet every year for the purpose of wanting to avoid a pet license. The thought process goes like this: “If I have an unlicensed dog and bring it to the vet, the vet could alert the county that I have an unlicensed animal. So, unless something is wrong with my pet, I just won’t bring it to the vet.” These are the kinds of licenses and permits that have negative externalities. Governments don’t consider enough the unintended consequences of their policies, and in this case, this policy can lead to sweet animals contracting a horrible and easily preventable disease.
I commend Cumberland County for doing away with their ‘pet privilege permit.’ Personally, I believe pet licenses should be done away with everywhere, but I am at least glad to see my county pulling back on regulation that can harm the wellbeing of the cutest among us.