Dog owners in Victoria are about to join a growing number in the Twin Cities no longer required to get licenses — a change set in motion by social media and implantable microchips that now help people find lost pets.
"It's been in our code forever," City Clerk Jennifer Kretsch told the Victoria City Council last week. But technology increasingly offers other ways for owners and authorities to identify dogs, she said.
Council members agreed and directed city staff to remove the license requirement. The revised rule is expected to get formal approval in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, people coming to City Hall to buy dog licenses will be told there's no need because changes are underway.
Victoria's new city manager, Laurie Hokkanen, brought the idea from her former job as assistant city manager in Chanhassen, which dropped dog licensing about two years ago. She said that when she looked into the change there, she discovered licensing had been dropped in Minnetonka, Plymouth, Brooklyn Center, New Brighton, Falcon Heights and Northfield.
Hokkanen said the change didn't cause an increase in unclaimed dogs in Chanhassen. Cities without licensing still take unidentified loose dogs to impound facilities, where owners can reclaim them after paying fines.
"The power of Facebook to connect these dogs and their owners is amazing," said Lyle Braun, practice manager at Countryside Veterinary Clinic in Norwood Young America, an impound center for Victoria and several other communities.
Braun said that not long ago a posting about a missing dog showed up on Countryside's Facebook page before authorities delivered the animal to the clinic. Many neighborhoods also have their own Facebook pages or use websites like Nextdoor.com.
Braun said about one-third of lost dogs brought to the clinic have identification information on microchips implanted under their skin. The chips — about the size of a grain of rice — can be scanned by veterinarians or authorities and are more secure than tags, which can fall off or get damaged.
Victoria Council Member Joe Pavelko says he plans to get a microchip for his young Pudelpointer, Barnes.
"He's nine months old, and he's a terror," he said. Besides chewing through three pairs of shoes — preferring brown ones for some reason — Barnes has slipped through Pavelko's fence gate a few times. Neighbors have corralled the animal before he's gotten far.
Pavelko said he's glad to see an end to the requirement that owners renew dog licenses every two years. "Having my dog's name and contact information on file at the city really isn't a service to me," he said.
The long-standing practice has generated only about $8,500 in revenue for the city in the past five years. Hokkanen said ending the requirement is a service to residents and also part of an overall effort in Victoria to streamline ordinances.