Sunday, April 14, 2013

Pet Licensing in LaCrosse, by Emily Pyrek

Many families and individuals in La Crosse own dogs and/or cats  Most are properly cared for and licensed, but many are not.  Local pet licensing rules are fairly simple and are intended for pet health and wellbeing. 

Dogs and cats in La Crosse county are required to be licensed annually by April 1st.  A license will only be granted with documentation that the animal is up to date on the rabies vaccination. The annual cost for a license is $11.00 per pet if the animal is spayed or neutered.  The cost increases by $10.00 to a total of $21.00 per pet if the animal is not fixed.  The reduced cost is an incentive for owners to spay or neuter their pets.

The city of La Crosse allows licensing for up to four cats and/or dogs per household.  An exception is made for pets under the age of five months.  A breeder or owner of a pregnant pet may house the offspring for up to five months before the puppies or kittens must be sold or given away.

Wisconsin enforces a “leash law” which requires any dog outside of its owner’s property to be wearing a collar and leash.  The exception to this rule is within a designated dog park.  The fine for an “untagged” and unleashed dog is $100.00 for the first offense, and doubles after the second offense. 

Dogs and cats are not allowed in city parks or on school property.  However, if a dog is a designated “service animal,” it is allowed in any public establishment.  Service animals include guide, hearing, seizure alert, and therapy animals. 

Service animals may only be rejected from an establishment if deemed out of control or not housebroken.  An establishment is not allowed to ask for documentation of a service dog’s authenticity, nor may it question an individual about their disability.  They may only ask what the animal has been trained for. 

Licensing fees are used to to fund animal control services.  According to the Coulee Region Humane Society website, these fees are “directly” used to collect stray pets, investigate and prosecute cases of animal cruelty and neglect, quarantine rabid animals, and rescue pets from distress (such as being locked in a hot car). 

Perhaps the most important factor in licensing a pet is peace of mind.  According to Ashley Eckes of the Coulee Region Humane Society, 68% of lost dogs are claimed by their owners.  A license makes it much easier to find the animal’s owner and return it safely.