License Your Pooch or Face a Fine

Dog population estimated at 560,000 in city, but just 28,000 are licensed

A Maltese Terrier attends the "Music for Dogs" concert for canines as part of the Vivid LIVE festival at the Sydney Opera House forecourt on June 5, 2010 in Sydney, Australia.

Having an unlicensed pooch in the city will soon net owners a fine.

The ordinance has been on the books for years, but just 27,918 dogs are registered in the city that has a dog population estimated between 560,000 to 590,000, officials say.

The fines — between $30 and $200 — will begin next year and after an education campaign, said Cherie Travis, the Executive Dir., Chicago Animal Care & Control.

“Probably about half a million [dog owners] are not aware of the requirement to have their dogs licensed,” she said.  “We’re giving them plenty of notice. The goal is compliance, not enforcement. But enforcement will come at some point.”

Licensing a dog enhances public health efforts because the canine must be vaccinated for rabies in order to get one. Licenses for dogs who have been spayed or neutered cost just $5; otherwise, it’s $50.

Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza said last week that revenue generation was also a component of the enforcement.

“I believe that dog registration is an area where we have a significant opportunity to increase revenues,” she said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

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