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County makes house call for pets

King County animal control crews started knocking on doors and offering to license pets last weekend in an effort to boost the number of licensed pets living within the city.

While it might seem odd to get a personal visit from animal control, residents seem to like the idea of a county agent coming to them.

“Many people appreciate that they get service at their doorstep,” said Benjamin Leifer, who is the acting assistant division manager for the King County Licensing Division.

Canvassers will be knocking on doors during the weekends only, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Hours might increase as the days grow longer.

Federal Way has a relatively low number of pet licenses — about 6.5 percent of the human population, Leifer said.

According to animal control’s July 2001 numbers, there were 83,259 people living in the city, but only 5,395 pet licenses issued or renewed.

Sometimes people don’t know where to go to license their pets, Leifer said. Sometimes they can’t find the time in their busy schedules to take care of pet licensing.

King County animal control staff decided to make it easy. Neighborhood canvassers can take the license fee, about $15 for spayed or neutered cats and dogs, and can issue a tag on the spot.

Once the canvasser enters the information into animal control’s database, lost pets can be returned to their owners by referencing a tag number.

Federal Way contracts with King County for animal control services, but the county doesn’t charge any of its contract cities for the services it provides. Revenue raised from license sales, adoption fees and other sources covers King County animal control’s costs.

The number of pet licenses has been growing since the county started the canvassing program in 1999. That year, they issued about 119,000 pet licenses. In 2000, the number rose to 135,000.

County animal control was aiming for 155,000 pet licenses last year. They hope to license 175,000 pets in 2002.

The primary goal of the pet license canvassing project is to get pets in the system so they can be returned to their owners if they get lost, Leifer said. Last year, animal control helped return 2,500 lost pets.

The license can provide peace of mind to an owner. When people find a dog or cat, they usually look at the tag to find the pet’s name and a number to call.

“There are often distraught owners out there. Pets get out for a variety of reasons,” Leifer said. “If they have a license, we can reunite them with their family.”

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