LIHU‘E — A one-time $20 microchipping cost may soon replace biennial licensing fees for cats and dogs on Kaua‘i.
“Licensing with the use of metal tags no longer serves its purpose,” Director of Finance Reiko Matsuyama wrote in a February 25 memo to the council.
Two bills, one for cats and one for dogs, will be up for first read on Wednesday with the Kaua‘i County Council. The proposed bills are being introduced by Councilmember Luke Evslin by request of the administration.
Making this change, Matsuyama said, can increase owner compliance, reduce administrative costs, cut costs for owners by eliminating biennial renewals and increase chances for reunification.
This is a joint effort between the county and the Kaua‘i Humane Society.
KHS Director Nicole Schafer said this is a logical move. Technology advancements have made microchipping more effective than the current metal tag system, which can fall off collars.
“It’s the best form of reunification,” Schafer said Monday morning.
Should KHS come across a stray animal, an officer can scan the pet right in the field with a wave of a wand detector. Officers can then input the serial number into several databases to find an owner’s contact information.
At KHS, an animal considered a stray is put on hold for an owner to pick up for two days. If the animal is chipped, it’s put on hold for nine.
“Those two days can go really fast,” Schafer said.
Most pets are already in compliance with microchipping, Matsuyama said in the memo. That includes all cats and dogs adopted from KHS and animals that have participated in KHS clinics. On average, for the last four years, 30% of licenses for dogs were from adoptions and 60% of licenses sold for cats were from adoptions, according to the memo.
Additionally, animals entering Kaua‘i are chipped as well as cats spayed or neutered through the Kaua‘i Community Cat Project, and many clinics require microchipping for clients.
The proposed program would follow a model by Hawaiian Humane on Hawai‘i Island, which started its microchipping program in July 2020. In six months since starting its program, 62% more animals were microchipped than in 2019.
The current licensing programs, for both cats and dogs, require a new license fee every two years. In the past, the county has seen a decrease in annual license sales and renewals, making “a poor representation of the pet population,” Matsuyama writes.
For an altered dog, that costs $15, and $50 for an unaltered dog.
Current cat fees vary between $10 to $30 annually or $15 to $50 for a biennial license. Higher costs are associated with animals that are unaltered.
According to Matsuyama’s Department of Finance Fiscal Year 2022 Budget and Operations Synopsis, this effort will eliminate about $30,000 in licensing program costs for the county.
Proposed Draft Bill No. 2820 would require cats over three months to be microchipped. Currently, cats that are over four months old must be licensed.
When a cat changes ownership, the former owner will need to inform the new owner of which microchip company the cat is registered, and a new owner must provide their contact information to that company within 30 days.
Veterinary clinics, animal shelters and animal rescue organizations will only be able to release chip identification numbers to the finder upon request.
For dogs found without a microchip, owners will need to pay fees for a microchip, per day $12 impoundment and a penalty, as described in proposed Draft Bill 2821.
The owner of a microchipped dog will still need to pay a $12 impoundment fee per day held.
For dogs that routinely get out, an additional penalty on a sliding scale will be added in concurrence with the number of incidences within a year.
For the first incident, a penalty of $20 will be applied for an altered dog. Four or more incidents will be a $35 fee.
An unaltered dog will face a $40 penalty, and $55 for four or more incidents.
Sabrina Bodon, government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or email@example.com.