Our Opinion: Should cat owners cough up yearly license fee?

September 19th, 2016 10:49 am

Would it be a good idea to …

… require that people buy licenses for their cats?

A reader from Courtdale proposes that Luzerne County collect fees for felines, just as it does for dogs. “Maybe that will control the amount of cats that are allowed to roam free and spread germs – rabies, etc.,” she wrote in a recent letter to the Times Leader.

Presumably tired of tabbies and other cat types that stalk through her neighborhood, the writer pointed out how one person’s prized pet can be another’s pest: “Do you ever think how much damage your cats cause?” She mentioned cats’ propensity to kill things – from songbirds to bunnies – as well as to assume the use of sand boxes, flower beds and gardens as their stench-soaked litter boxes.

Historically, communities created licensing laws only for dogs, presumably because they were considered potential threats to humans and livestock. Dogs also were often valued as possessions, and licenses conceivably allowed owners to be reunited with their wayward animals.

Today, cats are equally cherished in households as companion animals, causing some people to wonder why in many places the rules differ for dogs and cats.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals “supports and encourages license programs for all companion dogs and cats,” according to a position statement on its website, aspca.org.

“The ASPCA believes that license laws should exclude feral cat colonies,” the statement reads. “Because feral cats are not companions, or pets, in the usual sense of the word, license laws cannot be meaningfully enforced on them and should not be used as a means to rid areas of these cats.”

As a reminder, Pennsylvania law requires that all dogs three months of age and older be licensed. The cost of an annual license is less than $10. (It can be purchased online at padoglicense.com.) Licensing fees typically go toward a county’s animal-control programs and, in some cases, to support low-cost spay/neuter programs.

Should pet licensing be extend to Luzerne County’s cats? Or does the very suggestion get your dander up?

Give us your feedback by sending a letter to the editor or posting comments to this editorial at timesleader.com.

Likewise, tell us your ideas for improving the community. Maybe we’ll spotlight your suggestion in a future editorial and ask readers, “Would it be a good idea to …”