A series of concerned social media posts prompted Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Bryce Ward to release a statement Friday calming rumors of a proposed ordinance to require the licensing of pets in the borough.
"Recent social media posts on local community pages show images of a draft ordinance regarding animal licensing. I have not drafted, plan to draft, nor introduced such legislation," Ward said in a statement. "I submitted a request to the Animal Control Commission in April asking for policy recommendations regarding animal licensing as the commission is specifically tasked with providing the administration with policy direction and had identified this as an issue of concern from the community."
"I have not yet received their recommendations from that request," he continued. "There is a process to develop an ordinance that has not been followed. At this time no ordinance has been drafted by the administration, nor have I agreed to sponsor such an ordinance to implement a program to license animals in the borough."
The mayor's office clarified that the document being circulated on social media is a draft policy recommendation from the Animal Control Commission that will be presented to the animal control manager and borough mayor once actually adopted by the commission. If, after that occurs, the mayor agrees to sponsor such an ordinance, the administration would then draft its own ordinance and provide it to the Borough Assembly for public hearing and discussion.
Ward's office added that none of those actions has occurred.
The draft cites that requiring licenses for animals would increase the chance that a lost pet can be reunited with its owner, create an additional source of funding for the borough and increase the ability to verify rabies vaccinations.
Residents would be required to pay a license fee as well as the current adoption fee and vaccination fee when adopting an animal from the borough animal shelter.
The draft also stipulates that if an unlicensed dog is taken into the shelter, the owner would be required to pay an additional fee. A license tag would be required for all animals who are not already microchipped.
Owners of more than seven dogs would be required to obtain a multiple-animal license.
The municipality of Anchorage requires the licensing of pets, as does the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. The city and borough of Juneau requires animal licensing as well. The Kenai Peninsula Borough does not require the licensing of pets.
Proposed fees and fines contained in the draft ordinance:
License for a spayed or neutered dog or cat: $15, $28 or $40 for licenses of one, two or three years
License for an unsterilized dog or cat: $25, $45 and $65 for one, two or three years
Replacement tag: $5
Penalty for "delinquent license": $25
Multi-animal license for seven to 20 dogs or cats: $50 per year
Multi-animal license for more than 20 dogs or cats: $75 a year
Failure to license a dog or cat: first offense, $100; second offense, $200; third offense, $300
Using a borough dog or cat tag for a dog or cat other than the one for which it is issued: first offense, $100; second offense, $200; third offense $300
Removal of a dog or cat license by non-owner: first offense, $100; second offense, $200; third offense, $300
Counterfeiting or attempting to counterfeit or use of counterfeit license tag, receipt or certificate of vaccination: $300
Failure to obtain multiple animal license: first offense, $100; second offense, $200; third offense, $300
Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.