PORTAGE | The City Council's Ordinance Committee heard a proposal Tuesday night that would make it easier for residents to register their dogs.
Officials also want cats included in the city registration process for the first time.
Portage Clerk-Treasurer Chris Stidham said fewer than 500 dogs are registered with the city. The small number is most likely attributable to the fact that many people don't know the city requires residents to register their dogs, they don't have a chance to get to City Hall to do so or they don't want to pay the $3 fee.
His proposal, if approved, would drop the fee and drop the requirement to come to City Hall. It would allow residents to register their dogs online or in person.
Stidham said it will save the city money and ease the overcrowding at the Hobart Humane Society, where impounded dogs are taken.
City animal control takes about 60 dogs to the Humane Society a month. The city is charged. Residents are charged an impound fee to retrieve their pets.
If more dogs were licensed, he said, animal control could more easily return the dog to its owner by matching the tag with city records. It also would enable the city to better track its pet population and maintain records of dogs that are repeatedly caught by animal control.
Dogs would still have to have rabies vaccinations to be registered.
The committee chairman, City Councilman Ted Uzelac, said he liked the idea but added two additional requirements.
Uzelac wants the licensing requirements extended to cats because of an increasing feral cat problem in the city.
He also wants an additional requirement that cat and dog owners have either homeowners or renters insurance. Uzelac, a city police officer, said there has been an increase in bite cases. Too often, the pet owner doesn't have the money to pay for medical treatment for the person who has been bitten, he said.
"We want to make sure people are responsible for their animals," Uzelac said.
The proposal will go to a Nov. 20 Ways and Means Committee meeting for review before going to the full City Council, possibly in December.