The cost of a city pet license will likely creep up next year, another $2 per dog or cat, the first fee increase in five years.
For most pet owners, those with neutered or spayed dogs and cats, the annual license cost will rise to $23.
For seniors, 62 and older, the license for spayed or neutered dogs and cats will rise to $20.
The additional revenue from the city’s 41,330 licensed dogs and 22,600 licensed cats will be used to help pay for an additional animal control officer, said Steve Beal, animal control manager.
The city has eight animal control officers who handle all the calls for loose dogs, dog bites, barking dogs, a wayward cat in a garage, a dog without water in a hot backyard or chained without shelter in the winter.
The city needs another officer to cover a growing city, said Beal. The city has increased more than 8 square miles in the past 10 years and grown by 38,000 people. So the demand for animal control services has grown, but the number of staff members has not, Beal said.
The city last increased the pet license fees by $2 in January 2014.
Only dogs and cats need to be licensed in Lincoln, not hamsters, or mice, or snakes, or ferrets, though ferrets do need rabies shots, Beal said.
The $2 increase has been approved by the Lincoln-Lancaster County Board of Health and will likely become part of the two-year budget that goes to the Lincoln City Council this spring.
About 66 percent of this year’s $2.47 million animal control budget comes from fees, including licensing fees, said Beal. The city’s general fund, primarily property and sales tax revenues, pay the rest.
Licensing fees for unaltered dogs and cats are substantially higher than for animals that can’t reproduce. The license costs will go to $40 for unaltered cats and $54 for unaltered dogs with the $2 increase.
In addition to curbing pet overpopulation, the licensing fee structure leads to less aggressive and troublesome male dogs.
“We know when a dog is neutered it is going to be less aggressive,” Beal said.
About 97 percent of the licensed cats have been spayed or neutered and 87 percent of licensed dogs are altered, Beal said.
Neutered cats are less territorial and less likely to run, he said.
And owners who let their cats roam outdoors don’t want their animal to become pregnant, he said.
Lincoln’s licensing fees are generally in line with neighboring communities. In Douglas and Sarpy counties, dog licensing fees are $27.25 (altered) and $52.25 (unaltered); and cat fees are $14.25 (altered) and $52.25 (unaltered), Beal said.
A town Lincoln’s size, around 280,000 in population, likely has around 63,000 dogs and 68,800 cats, said Beal, based on the American Veterinary Medical Association’s pet ownership calculator.
“That’s a lot of cats who aren’t getting licensed (in Lincoln),” Beal said.