A proposal awaiting the governor’s signature would allow Virginia localities to permit lifetime dog licenses. But the measure has raised some concerns at the local level.
Legislation patroned by Del. Robert Orrock Sr. (R-Thornburg) would permit – but not require – local governments to establish lifetime pet licenses. Currently, dog licenses in Arlington are for between one and three years, running concurrently with rabies-inoculation certificates.
The measure passed both houses of the legislature unanimously after a conference committee hammered out some wordsmithing issues. It sets the maximum charge for a lifetime license at $50; the licenses would not be transferable among Virginia jurisdictions if a resident moves, and requires that rabies vaccinations are kept up to date.
It is the issue of vaccinations that worries Neil Trent, executive director of the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.
“It does not say how that would be verified – that seems like a big loophole,” Trent said of the legislation.
“With a lifetime license, what is the owner’s incentive – or even a reminder – to keep the rabies current?” Trent asked. “It seems like it may be a convenience for owners, but not necessarily a good initiative for public health.”
Those concerns have resonated with Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette.
“As the rabies vaccination and county license often expire at the same time, the treasurer’s renewal notice helps to keep rabies vaccinations up to date,” Fisette said.
Virginia law also allows, but does not require, localities to license cats, which is not done in Arlington (although there are requirements for rabies inoculations).
Both Trent and Fisette said they had no desire to open up what could be a can of worms by suggesting cats be licensed.
“The logistics would be very challenging, and I think there would be a great deal of pushback from the community,” Trent said.