The Connecticut legislature’s Environment Committee forwarded a bill to the House of Representatives which will establish a statewide, online licensing system for dog owners and adjust the fees for dog registrations.
The job of dog licensing has historically fallen to local town clerks who say it is one of their busiest working times of the year, although they often enjoy the work. Town leaders have said the licensing fees retained by the municipality don’t cover the costs to the town, with most of the money going to the state.
The legislature established a working group to examine the feasibility of a statewide, online licensing system and that now appears to be a possible reality, according to the bill which was received support from town clerks and kennel associations, many of whom were part of the working group.
Dog licensing has been declining over the years, but not necessarily the number of dogs. There are approximately 210,000 licensed dogs in Connecticut. Advocates see implementation of an online portal by the state as a way to ensure more dogs are licensed under Connecticut’s laws.
Under the bill, residents would still have the option to license their pet with their local municipality but would also have the option of licensing through the state’s online portal. The fees for a spayed or neutered dog would rise from $7 for a male and $12 for a female to $15 regardless of sterilization status and would raise the cost of a tag from fifty cents to one dollar.
Twenty-five percent of the fees would go to the municipality, another 25 percent will go into the Department of Agriculture’s animal control account, and the remainder will go into the state’s General Fund.
Although there are some costs associated with starting the online portal, hiring and advertising, totaling $224,606 over 2024 and 2025, according to the Office of Fiscal Analysis, but this would be offset by higher fees resulting in a net revenue gain.
The original bill required dog licenses to be renewed every three years, something the Council of Small Towns said would reduce the costs of licensing for municipalities, however, the final bill pulled back on that change and kept the annual licensing after working group members testified the three-year renewal would be confusing for pet owners.
The final bill also pushed back the implementation date from October of 2023 to June of 2024 to allow more time for implementation and to stay on schedule for dog licensing, which is when town clerks are busy with dog licenses.
Dog license fees brought in roughly $270,000 to the General Fund in 2021 and $375,000 to the animal population control account, which uses the money for sterilizing and vaccinating animals in municipal pounds and giving vouchers to low-income residents for sterilization and vaccination.