Whatcom County fee for more than four animals nixed

A proposal to add new licenses and fees for Whatcom County kennel owners or people who own more than four dogs and cats has been withdrawn.

The fees were nixed after a Tuesday, Jan. 13, finance committee meeting where County Council members said they had received a lot of feedback from their constituents and questioned the effectiveness of such fees.

Some members also said the number was too low to justify a permit and fees.

"Plenty of people have more than four (dogs and cats)," Council member Laurie Caskey-Schreiber said.

Some also said they believed the new fees likely wouldn't prevent animal hoarding or neglect, which was one of the goals of the ordinance.

"Hoarders will never get licenses," Council member Barbara Brenner said, adding that the fees would discourage "good people" from taking in more animals.

The license fees were anticipated to bring in $12,660 for the Whatcom Humane Society, said Tawni Helms, Whatcom County administrative supervisor.

The county will supplement for the loss of that revenue by giving the Humane Society a $518,079 contract instead of one for $505,419. The higher amount had been approved several weeks ago by the county but not yet written into the contract, Helms said.

The remaining portion of the proposed animal control ordinance, which includes changing the rules on trespassing dogs, will remain the same, said Lori Daddio, who wrote the ordinance.

Currently, animal control officers can impound unattended dogs on public property or in areas with leash laws. The proposal would allow trespassing dogs to be picked up on private property in areas without leash laws.

Dog owners may still allow their dogs to be off leash on their own property or off their property if the owners are present and have the dog under control, Daddio said.

The ordinance also includes changes for contested hearings, moving them to District Court rather than before animal control manager David Petersen.

Daddio said the revised ordinance will be reviewed by Whatcom County Executive Pete Kremen, and if approved, will likely be forwarded to the Whatcom County Council for introduction Tuesday, Jan. 27. Normally, a public hearing is scheduled two weeks after an ordinance is introduced.