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Supervisors approve increase in animal services fees


Last updated 10/6/2006 at Noon

On October 26 animal service fees for services at the County of San Diego’s animal shelter will be increased.

A 5-0 San Diego County Board of Supervisors vote September 26 approved the increase in fees for the Department of Animal Services, which provides shelter services and medical care as well as impoundment for six contract cities in addition to the unincorporated area of San Diego County. The fee increases are intended to help the department keep pace with rising operational costs.

Dog license fees were last raised in May 2003. In Fiscal Year 2005-06 dog license fees covered approximately 19 percent of the department’s budgeted costs. Payments from contract cities provided for 55 percent of the costs, the county general fund covered 18 percent, and miscellaneous revenue accounted for nine percent. In Fiscal Year 1999-2000, dog license revenues accounted for approximately 25.5 percent of the department’s operational costs.

In Fiscal Year 1999-2000 the department had a dog and cat “save rate” of 45 percent. In Fiscal Year 2003-04, following the last increase in fees, the “save rate” was 69 percent, and the current “save rate” exceeds 70 percent.

The current license fees for an altered dog are $12 for 12 months, $20 for 24 months, and $28 for 36 months. The fees for unaltered dogs are $30 for 12 months, $49 for 24 months, and $64 for 36 months. The fees for altered dogs will increase to $14 for 12 months, $26 for 24 months, and $36 for 36 months. The 12-month fee for unaltered dogs will remain unchanged, but the 24-month fee will increase to $52 and the 36-month fee will be $72.

While the lower fees for altered dogs encourage neutering or spaying, the differential in cost is not considered significant enough to create a disincentive to license unaltered dogs. A percentage of the dog license revenues is used to provide $25 to $50 rebate coupons to pet owners who wish to have their animal altered by a private veterinarian.

The $10 late fee for renewal of expired licenses and the $5 fee to transfer the jurisdiction of a license were not changed by the new fee structure, nor were the $5 license tag replacement fee or the $5 change of ownership fee.

The impound fee, which is currently $20 for cats and $25 for dogs, will rise to $26 for both dogs and cats. The impound fees of $6 for fowl, $30 for sheep, goats, or other medium-sized animals, and $50 for equine, bovine, or other large-sized animals were not increased. The impound fee for a dog at large a second time remains at $45 and the fee for a dog at large a third or subsequent time remains at $65 (cumulative violations are assessed to the owner regardless of the dog involved). The additional after-hours redemption fee remains at $15.

The relinquishment fee for small animals (including all dogs) brought to a shelter had been $5 plus board fees; that has been increased to $40 including board fees. The relinquishment fee for animals relinquished by their owner and impounded in the field had been $30 plus board and will become $60 including board. Board fees for impoundment of dogs, cats, and other small animals will increase from $6 to $8 per day. Board fees for sheep, goats, and other medium-size animals remain at $12 per day while board fees for equine, bovine, or other large animals remain at $15 per day.

The cost of medical examination and/or treatment will increase from $28 to $40 per hour, although the $10 cost of a feline leukemia blood test will not change. The fee for owner-requested euthanasia at the shelter will increase from $5 to $10.

The adoption fees remain unchanged at $58 for a kitten or cat, $69 for a puppy or dog, and $35 for a cat or dog seven years or older. Seniors over 60 or disabled residents can adopt a kitten, cat, puppy, or dog for $35 and adoption fees are waived for seniors who adopt a cat or dog at least seven years old.

The fee increases are expected to generate an additional $520,000 annually, allowing for a $180,000 reduction in general fund subsidies and a $340,000 lowering of the contract cities’ obligations.


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