Pet Owners Howl Over Proposed Licensing Fees

Ann Fore and Gail Enroth are dog owners whose pets include boxers, labs and mixed breeds. They say they take care of their dogs and sterilize the ones they don't breed. That's why these two say a licensing fee targeting all dog and cat owners in the county is unfair.

"We're not happy having to pay more money to pay for other people's mistakes and problems. It's not our fault that there are irresponsible pet owners," says Enroth.

Fore agrees, saying, "It's the people that don't care and that's where the population, that's where the humane society's getting all these strays, all these puppies. It's people who don't care and they're not going to license their dogs."

Fore and Enroth made sure their supervisor knows where they stand on the licensing proposal.

"This is not enforceable, first of all. And, again, it's going to be she, and I, and the rest of the responsible pet owners that pay it," Enroth told District 2 Supervisor Larry Benefield.

Fore told him, "If this would save from killing one animal, I would pay the fee, but it's not going to stop it."

Benefield says that's the same thing he and the other supervisors are hearing from a lot of people.

"We've heard from them. They've sounded out loud and clear that this is not the way to solve our problem. We have a problem, it's a tremendous problem. And maybe if nothing good comes out of this but the fact that now people know that we are killing and having to put down 12,000 animals in this county a year, and that's not good."

Benefield says he doesn't see where a lot of good is going to come from a licensing ordinance either.

If passed, animal owners whose pets are spayed or neutered will pay $9.00 per pet per year. People who don't fix their animals will pay $18 dollars. Those who don't license dogs and cats would be fined $50 dollars.

Humane Society president Eric Aschaffenburg says licensing ordinances work in other parts of the country.

"We're not penalizing anyone. As a community, we can solve this overpopulation problem. This is everyone coming together to solve a problem no one individual can solve," Aschaffenburg says.

The supervisors are expected to vote on the proposed licensing ordinance at their October 13th meeting in Biloxi.