CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson Billy Arnold, left, waits his turn to obtain a pet license Monday afternoon while Animal Shelter Supervisor Louisa Maestas fills out a license application for Shannon Rhodes, right, and Michael Lindsey, center.
Clovis’ new pet licensing program is off to a quick start.
Police Chief Steve Sanders said 148 licenses have been issued to residents; 113 of those were issued Monday.
Sanders said in response to a high number of inquiries, officials began issuing the free licenses Thursday — three days ahead of schedule.
The response so far has been mostly positive, Sanders said.
Some residents have questioned the reason for the licensing ordinance, he said, explaining there has been a good bit of misunderstanding about the program.
But Sanders said complaints have been minimal once people realize it is free, and, “Our main objective for the ordinance was to be able to find pet owners when their animals are at large,” he said.
Approved in April by city commissioners, the ordinance requires owners of dogs and cats to obtain a license and tag for their animals within 15 days of acquiring or residing with a pet in the city.
Animal rescue groups, police dogs or assistance animals are exempt.
Pet owners are required to either microchip their animals, keep a tag on them or have them tattooed by a veterinarian.
Pets must have rabies shots to be licensed. If an owner doesn’t have a copy of their rabies certificates, a veterinarian can sign the license form.
The licenses will be good for three years, in keeping with the length of time between rabies vaccinations.
Sanders said residents have 90 days to obtain the license for their pets, after which they could be cited with a misdemeanor if their unlicensed animal is caught running at large.
A misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of up to $500 and 90 days in jail.
The owner’s contact information will be entered into a database that police and animal control officers can access so pets can be returned to their owners, Sanders has said.
While he said it is difficult to estimate how many pets in the city need to be licensed, Sanders said more than 100 dogs whose owners are unknown are euthanized each month at the shelter.
Shelter data shows that during a 10-day period in July, the shelter took in 62 animals with no identification.
Animal Shelter Supervisor Louisa Maestas said there was a steady stream of registrants at the shelter Monday.
“I haven’t had a single one that’s come in upset,” she said, though she said there have been many questions and some misunderstanding about how the licensing works.
Maestas said several county residents have shown interest in registering their dogs — which the city is willing to do even though it’s not required — so they can be entered into the database.
Resident Harold Best was cheerful as he obtained a license for his dog Monday afternoon.
Best said he was glad to do it. He described his dog, which he adopted at the shelter six years ago, as “the No. 1 dog of Curry County; the best dog.”
Maestas said people can take advantage of the 90-day window to get their dogs’ vaccinations current.
And she said even those pets with microchips are still required to obtain a city license.