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Posted: November 4, 2010 7:02 p.m.

Some residents opposed to animal licenses

Several Newton County residents told county commissioners on Tuesday that they don’t want the county to license pets, calling it an animal tax.

The county is considering a proposal that calls for annual licenses for all cats and dogs older than six months or age, to ensure that pets had proper vaccinations. Licenses for spayed or neutered animals would costs $10 each; tags for animals that were not spayed or neutered would cost $25.

The residents spoke during the public comments section of Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners meeting.

Chairman Kathy Morgan said Thursday morning that the county is not planning to vote on the licensing proposal, but is simply gathering information. She has been reaching out to various cities to gather feedback from their councils. She expects the commission to discuss the matter at its January retreat.

She said Newton County Animal Control has been picking up more dogs that do not have rabies vaccinations, which concerns county officials. Porterdale requires animals to be licensed at a cost of $5 per year, but no other cities in Newton County have license requirements.

"We want to be sure that everybody is being an honest citizen, but we understand (adding this fee) may not be appropriate in this economy," Morgan said Thursday. "We’re just asking for feedback."

She encouraged citizens to send her an e-mail with feedback or to contact their county commissioner.

She previously estimated that the county could have around 100,000 pets, based on average of 2.5 for each of the county’s 40,000 homes. If all pets received a license, the fee would generate a minimum of $1 million, and residents have questioned why the county would need this much money.

Morgan said animal control is already underfunded, and the need for its services is increasing as the county grows and the economy gets worse. All fees collected would only go to animal control. She said some residents were upset that animal control was not open for more hours on the weekends.

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