City dog license compliance increases

Published 10:33 pm Thursday, July 25, 2019

Suffolk has seen a 30-percent increase in dog license compliance since it privatized the service last year.

The city sold 5,130 dog licenses in 2018, but it has already sold 6,901 licenses to date this year, according to Deputy Treasurer Andrew Owen, through outsourcing the dog licensing to PetData.

Owen said the city contracted with PetData as a means of simplifying the process for residents as well as freeing up staff time in the treasurer’s office.

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“It really cost us more money than we generated,” Owen said, “so this really allows us to refocus our efforts on collecting revenue for the city, and this is a substantial customer service enhancement.”

All city dog owners are required to vaccinate their dogs against rabies as a matter of public health and safety, with state code giving the responsibility of selling licenses to locally-elected treasurers. For puppies, the rabies vaccination lasts for only one year. After that, it lasts for three years.

Owen said for the city, it’s not about the money. If it was, he said, the yearly fee would have to be around $50 to keep up with inflation, compared with when it was originally established at $5.

There has been no increase in dog license fees after the city contracted out the service. It still costs $5 for a dog license if the dog is spayed or neutered, and $10 if it is not. Dog owners can also get a lifetime dog license for $50, but owners are responsible for providing rabies vaccination updates.

“It’s just a matter of public health and safety that we don’t have a lot of dogs in the city that can be rabid,” Owen said.

Dog owners in Suffolk can still come to the treasurer’s offices at City Hall or at the North Suffolk Library, as well as the Animal Care Center, to receive or renew their dog license, but they can now renew the license online through PetData. Kennel licenses must still be bought through the treasurer’s office.

The service has also helped the city’s animal control officers.

“With this new database, animal control officers are able to search the system in the field using city license tag numbers, rabies tag numbers, microchip numbers, breed and street name,” Chief Animal Control Officer Meghann Lanier stated in a news release. “With these capabilities, officers are able to reunite dogs with their owners faster.”

PetData will also mail out dog license registration, renewal and follow-up reminder notices throughout the year.

To get a dog license, or to renew it online, residents can go to, type in their home ZIP code and then choose to license their dog, update their information or view other relevant information. PetData will mail licenses directly to the dog owner’s home.

“This enhancement makes life a little easier for Suffolk’s dog owners,” Treasurer Ron Williams stated in the news release. “The idea is that a citizen can register their dog or renew its license from their home without having to come into the office or wait in line.”