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Anoka residents no longer need to license their dogs or cats with the city or have them vaccinated against rabies, after the City Council unanimously approved changes to the city’s pet ordinance last month.

The amended ordinance requires that all dogs and cats in public spaces have an identification tag affixed to their collar with the owner or veterinarian’s contact information. Previously the city supplied tags for licensed dogs and cats.

Other rules still apply, including the leash law and limits on the number of dogs or cats owned.

According to city staff, the purpose of licensing was to identify and return pets to their owners and to ensure pets were vaccinated against rabies. But social media, owner-supplied ID tags and microchip implants are more effective than licensing for locating the owners of lost pets, staff research found.

State law doesn’t mandate rabies vaccines, and city staff learned that rabies is rare in dogs and cats in Minnesota.

The city has been issuing an average of around 170 licenses a year, generating revenue of about $1,600 annually, according to Police Chief Eric Peterson.

Council Member Elizabeth Barnett praised the change, saying it’s “a benefit to say ... you can have your dog or cat responsibly, and we don’t need to, as a city, charge you a fee or tax you for that.”

Asked by Council Member Brian Wesp how he felt about the change, Chief Peterson said he was initially apprehensive but is now comfortable with the amendment after speaking with his community service officers and with chiefs from other departments.

Peterson said that according to the community services officers, a majority of animals impounded now don’t have a city tag anyway.

Anoka’s decision to eliminate pet licenses comes in the wake of a similar move by Ramsey, which eliminated the requirement for dog licenses in March 2021.


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