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Story first posted on on September 15, 2021Dog owners in Boise will soon be able to catch a break on dog license fees to entice more residents to register their pets.

Avid dog lover City Council Member TJ Thomson worked with City Council President Elaine Clegg and City Council Member Patrick Bageant over the summer to put together a policy to encourage dog licensure by giving owners a price cut and discounts for renewal.

Thomson said his goal is to increase Boise’s dog license rate from 18% up to 30%, which is the highest rate of any city he and Clegg could find in their research.

“Dog licensing helps offset some of the costs associated with animal enforcement in our city, but by far and away, the most important reason to license your furry pal is to ensure you can get him or her home in case they are lost,” Thomson said. “With that tag, it ensures there is more likelihood of success.”

How much is the discount?

Under the new program, anyone who licenses their dog will pay no fee for the first six months. Then the license for spayed or neutered animals would drop from $20 to $15, and non-spayed or neutered animal licenses would decrease from the mid $50 range to $35 annually. If you choose to renew, you get a 25% discount.

This is a slightly different version of the program Thomson floated to the city council earlier this summer. It’s on top of the rewrite of Boise’s animal code Thomson started pushing for in 2019 and finally passed into city code earlier this year.

According to Boise’s Department of Finance and Administration analysis of the program, the combination of the loss of revenue, additional staff time, a one-time marketing campaign to promote the price drop, and changes to the city’s computer system will cost $96,978. But, if the city reaches its goal of raising the licensure rate to 30%, it will bring in an additional $15,216 in revenue.

More possible changes down the road

City Council Members unanimously voted for the idea and praised Thomson for his diligence in advocating for man’s best friend. Bageant joined his colleagues in praising Thomson, but he noted that microchip technology might make dog licenses obsolete in a few decades.

“I have always been a little bit unsure about dog licensing in Boise because I understand the purpose and allow our code enforcement people to identify whose animals are whose, but it’s a situation where technology has overtaken the old way of doing it,” he said.

Thomson suggested in the future city council could look at adding a one or two-dollar discount on licenses for dog owners who say their animals are microchipped to encourage the practice. He also suggested the possibility of a discount for low-income residents, a policy that has had success in Minneapolis.

Clegg said the city clerk’s office is also studying several other reforms to animal code enforcement for the coming years. Some possible ideas include the ability for animal enforcement officers to be able to issue a license to someone in the field, instead of writing a ticket for going without one and allowing them one attempt to return a lost dog to an owner with a license instead of taking it immediately to the shelter.

Beware: Hot asphalt

City Council Members also gave the green light to another proposal from Thomson to install signs warning pet owners of hot asphalt.

“I’ve been in contact with citizens in our city that have brought this to my attention of having these hot asphalt warning signs placed within the city, primarily within parks, showing how hot the asphalt is depending on the air temperature to serve as an educational campaign for when someone is out with their pup they can realize how quickly their paws can be burnt, and sometimes severely, in a short amount of time.”

The one-time $15,000 expense will include installing 18 signs at strategic locations, including Willow Lane Athletic Complex, Veterans Memorial Park, Ann Morrison Park, Julia Davis Park, Kristin Armstrong Municipal Park, and two signs on the Greenbelt near Marianne Williams Park.

He suggested a second phase of at least 15 signs in all parks where dogs are allowed off-leash year-round or seasonally.

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