Burnsville pet owners who have yet to buy city licenses for their dogs, cats, ferrets or hen chickens can cross that task off their to-do lists.
If it was even there to begin with.
City Council members agreed at a workshop Tuesday to end pet licensing. An ordinance change will be approved at an upcoming regular meeting.
It’s unclear how many pet owners comply with the city’s requirement that animals be licensed every two years.
“Animal Control thinks it’s just a small portion, but nobody knows for sure,” Police Services Manager Lynn Lembcke told the council.
Fees are $20 for each spayed or neutered animal and $30 for each non-spayed or -neutered animal for licenses bought in the first year of the licensing period, and $10 and $15 for licenses bought in the second year. Licenses expire on Dec. 31 of odd-numbered years.
In 2018 the city issued 995 licenses, “and I’m certain that there are more than that — dogs and cats and ferrets — in our city,” Mayor Elizabeth Kautz said.
“We don’t have much adoption of the process of licensing, so why are we forcing it?” Council Member Dan Kealey asked.
Animal licensing “has little impact on public safety,” said a city staff report which, regardless of licensing, recommends that city code require dogs, cats and ferrets over 6 months old be vaccinated for rabies and that all dogs, cats and ferrets have some form of identification on them. The council ordered a review of the licensing program last October.
A review of 26 other cities found that seven don’t license pets, and some have “not been licensing for quite a while now,” Lembcke said.
Fourteen cities are similar to Burnsville, requiring a one- or two-year license with fees ranging from $10 to $50. Five cities offer a lifetime pet license option.
Some revenue will be lost without licensing. The biggest hit will be felt by American Boarding Kennels, the city’s animal control contractor.
The city made $7,310 last year on license sales, according to the staff report. American Boarding Kennels, which sells most of the licenses, made $14,950 and another $1,950 in penalties for unlicensed animals.
Benefits of licensing, according to the contractor, are that it “increases the likelihood of rabies vaccinations being up to date and the chances of reuniting an impounded animal with its owner,” the report said.
Pet owners and businesses such as boarding kennels already “self-police a whole lot of this,” said Council Member Dan Gustafson, a dog owner.
Last fall council members considered retaining the license requirement for chickens only, but agreed Tuesday to drop that one, too.
The city has eight active chicken licenses, Lembcke said — and one nuisance case.
A residence in southwest Burnsville has 100 chickens and three roosters, Community Development Director Jenni Faulkner said.
“That’s an ongoing code enforcement case,” she said.
“The neighborhood is not very happy, and the stench is unbelievable,” Kautz said.
“The problem that we have isn’t that they don’t have a license, it’s that they’re running a farm,” Council Member Cara Shulz said.