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Albuquerque officially stops requiring pet licenses

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The city just threw dog (and cat) owners a little bone.

Albuquerque’s Animal Welfare Department on Friday announced that the city had “officially ended” the pet licensing requirement, following through on a proposal first floated during the annual budget process earlier this year.

Officials estimate that only 20% of the city’s companion animal population has a current license, which cost $6 each year. Animal Welfare Director Danny Nevarez told the Journal last spring that it was hard to discern how the program benefitted the city.

Eliminating the licensing requirement means losing about $305,000 per year in associated revenue, according to budget documents, but the city said it was spending more to administer it – much of it going to a contracted Texas company.

Nevarez told City Council last month that licensing was a money-loser and no longer made sense given limited compliance and resource intensity.

“We have to do something different, and I think this is definitely the right thing for us to do,” he said.

The council voted unanimously to approve the change.

“I think this is an outstanding thing,” Councilor Cynthia Borrego said at the time. “You have to have your pet microchipped anyway, so this cuts out a step in that whole process and I appreciate that very much.”

Nevarez has said that microchipping – which the city will continue to require – is a more effective way to track pets. Animal Welfare has been offering free monthly microchipping clinics, reaching over 5,000 pets this year. Outside of the special clinics, city shelters charge $15 per microchip.

As part of the new philosophy, Animal Welfare has also created a “return to owner” program that allows field officers to return pets directly to their homes instead of taking them to the shelter. The city said in a news release that the program has benefitted more than 170 pets so far.

“Animal Welfare has made incredible progress in our first two years, and the more we focus our resources on what truly matters – investing in lifesaving and public safety – the more we will see the system become more humane, more efficient, and more effective,” Mayor Tim Keller said in a statement.

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