Licensing fees possible solution to pet population problem

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November 30, 2006

Last night, News 12 ran a story about Richmond County's pet population, and we learned that 12,000 cats and dogs will be put down this year.

Due to your e-mails, we decided to dig a little deeper and ask: Does our local government have a responsibility to step in?

Right now, anyone can buy a pet, no questions asked.

But is that helping or hurting our area?

What do you think?

Should commissioners enact a pet license fee to weed out those irresponsible owners?

"We're very irresponsible when it comes to our pets. It's horrible," said Animal Services Director Randy Teasley.

Horrible is also the word News 12 viewers are using to describe our pet population.

Christine Johnson saw our original story and writes, "Getting the public to understand is like beating your head against a wall."

Christine used to work at Animal Control, but resigned. We spoke to her about that decision.

"It's hard to do it day in and day out," she said. "I give all the girls and the guys there credit for doing that, because I couldn't."

This year alone, they've done it 12,000 times.

We brought the problem to the attention of Augusta Commissioner Joe Bowles.

"I did not realize it was such a high number," he told us.

Bowles, who has served roughly one year, agrees there's an animal crisis.

"If the person couldn't afford to pay a licensing fee, maybe they shouldn't take the responsibility of owning a pet," Bowles said.

Teasley has been reading up on the implementation of pet licensing fees for years.

"[Under this sort of system,] if an animal's spayed and neutered, you get quite a substantial break on your pet license, and they have fines for not licensing your pet," he explained. "Minimum fine, $500."

"So maybe...a fee up front, a licensing fee, will weed out those and steer it to where responsible people are obtaining the pets," Bowles said.

Those annual fees could possibly range from $25 to $50 dollars a year.

In order for commissioners to approve pet licensing fees, a proposal must first be presented to them by Animal Control. Due to budget restraints, that has yet to happen.

If you want to get involved and help with the pet population problem, we're on your side with some ways you can.

Helping the Pet Population Problem

C.S.R.A. Humane Society
425 Wood Street

Molly's Militia

Fort Gordon Veterinary Treatment Facility
N. Range Road, Building S-500

Augusta Animal Rescue Friends
(706) 364-4747