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King County Goes Door To Door Looking For Unlicensed Cats And Dogs

Mark Arehart
Quincy lives in Seattle. A county ordinance requires all dogs and cats to be licensed.

That knock on your door may be for Fido, or possibly, Fluffy. King County is sending out canvassers to identify unlicensed pets. The canvassers, who are temporary county employees, will be out every weekend between now and the end of October, sporting county ID badges and carrying pet licensing documents. Indoor and Outdoor Pets Must Be Licensed

Even if your cat never leaves the couch, King County requires that he, or she, have a license. Michelle Wilmot, city of Kent spokeswoman, says even inside, pets sometimes stray.

“They’ll sneak out the door, or they’ll jump a fence,” Wilmot said.

King County canvassers, who are going door to door in Kent and other cities in King County looking for unlicensed animals, are out to educate pet owners, not punish them, according to Wilmot. Owners will be given a temporary permit and will have 30 days to purchase a license. 

How Much Does A License Cost?

In King County, licenses for dogs and cats are $30 if the animals are spayed or neutered, $60 if they aren’t. There are discounts for disabled and senior residents and for those with juvenile pets.  The fine for having an unlicensed pet is $125 for a spayed animal and $250 for an unspayed pet.

Won't Snoop For Pets

Wilmot says the canvassers have been trained in customer service and will try not be be intrusive.

“There won’t be any looking over fences or looking in people’s windows,” she said.

But, Wilmot says, if there's a dog dish on the porch, the occupants will probably get a visit.

First Pet Canvassing Since 2010

King County hasn’t done a big pet license canvassing project like this since 2010.  It’s financially in the county’s interest to do it, though.  Money from licenses helps pay for animal shelter adoption programs, prosecution of animal cruelty cases and free rides home for licensed pets that get lost.

Click here for more information on pet licensing in King County.

Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.