PORTAGE | The City Council on Tuesday approved new measures for the licensing of residents' dogs and cats.
Beginning Jan. 1, Portage residents will be able to license their dogs or cats online. The $3 fee has been dropped.
Clerk-Treasurer Chris Stidham said the effort is to get more animals licensed. He estimated only about 500 dogs are currently licensed in Portage. Stumbling blocks, he said, have been the fee and the fact that residents have to make a trip to City Hall to complete the task.
By allowing registration online, the city hopes more people will register their animals. That would mean fewer animals would have to be transported to the Hobart Humane Society, Stidham said.
Owners without Internet access can still register pets at City Hall. Stidham said officials also are working with area veterinarians to allow registrations at their offices.
Animal control officers will be equipped with iPads with registration information and should be able to return pets who have gotten loose quicker to their owners. The officers also will be able to register animals in the field.
Dogs will still be required to have rabies vaccinations, but it will be on a "trust, then verify" basis. If a dog is loose and caught, a resident would have to show proof of rabies vaccines for its return.
It is the first time the city has required cats to be registered. City Councilman Ted Uzelac added the requirement, saying at a committee meeting that cats running loose are a problem in the city.
Stidham said on average, some 60 animals are picked up during a summer month by animal control. About a dozen are cats. When the owner can't immediately be found, the animals are taken to the human society, initiating fees to both the city and residents to have their animals returned.
In addition, impound fees for unlicensed cats and dogs will increase, moving from $30 to $50 for the first offense; $50 to $75 for the second offense and $75 to $100 for each additional offense.