Thousands of people in Central Oregon own at least one dog, but Bend Police Chief Jeff Sale says only a small portion actually pay for a dog license. He's proposed police take over licensing from the county to help pay for animal control calls.
"I'm guessing it's more around the 80,000 mark for total number of animals here in the city of Bend. Of those, 8,000 are licensed. So we're roughly hitting 10 percent of the animals in this city," Sale said Thursday.
Licensing a dog costs $12 for a dog that has been spayed or neutered and $27 for one that has not.
Even at the low end of the scale, licensing 80,000 dogs would total nearly $1 million in revenue.
But the Humane Society of Central Oregon says that estimate is way off.
Using statistics from the USDA, the humane society estimates the number of pets is way lower
"There's about 14,000 dogs living in the city limits," said Karen Burns, the shelter director in Bend.
Just over 450 animals were brought to the shelter last year by police, some of them more than once.
"When you look at what it costs us to run animal control inside the city, it's extremely expensive," said Sale.
Police handle more than 4,000 animal calls a year. They have a contract with the humane society to serve as a shelter. At $24 a day for a dog, with a five-day fee cap, even if the dog is there for months, the humane society calls it a bargain.
"It's a small fraction of what they would have to pay if they were having to build their own impound facility and staff it and run it," said Burns.
Currently, Deschutes County handles dog licenses, paying cities their portion. Sale has proposed police take over licensing. While there is debate about the number of dogs in Bend, more licenses would surely mean more money.
"I think that you have to actually put together a campaign to do that," the police chief said. You need to -- it's an education piece, I think, for the citizens of Bend that, you know, there is a requirement to license your animal in the city."
If your dog is picked up by police, currently you have to go to the police station first and pay your ticket, then head to the shelter and pay impound and boarding fees.
It seems that is worth it for most:the humane society says around 70 percent of strays are picked up by their owners, on average in three days.
If you need to get a license for your dog or a new pet ID tag, visit http://www.deschutes.org/Finance/Dog-Licenses.aspx for more information.