Where Do Pet Licensing Fees Go, Anyway?

“Pet licensing” may sound like a boring topic of discussion, but that’s mostly due to the fact that most folks don’t know anything about it. It’s not like we find ourselves at the dining table with friends raving about the hottest new ordinances and bylaws. Listen, licensing is something we just have to do for our pets – outside of being the law (booo! hiss!), it’s the responsible thing to do, and your pet deserves the protection that comes with it. You love your pet, which means you do (or should) license them. So it’s about time you understand not only why we license, but why the heck it all started in the first place!

We can trace the history of dog licensing as far back as 1446, when residents in Utrecht, Holland, registered their pets and paid the fee in salt. (Fun fact: since it was so valuable, salt was often used as a form of payment… hence, the word “salary.” #wintrivianight) These days, we can no longer pay with salt (boo), but the fact remains that licensing is an important part of responsible pet ownership, and something that benefits the entire community.

History of Pet Licensing: Nutshell Edition 

There is quite a market for old dog tags, and with them, treasure seekers have unearthed glimpses into the history of pet ownership. From the relics in Holland to the oldest known dog licences from Rostock, Germany (1775), we are able to trace the origins of when cities and villages began requiring licences for furry friends.

The oldest known dog licence tag in North America was issued by the Corporation of Fredericksburg (Virginia) in 1853 to a stray dog named Owney, who became an icon of the tag world a generation later. Really! In 1888, this plucky pup was taken in by postal workers and began serving as a four-legged mail carrier. Travelling by train, he quickly became a favourite on routes all over North America. It didn’t take long before Owney had a collar so he could wear his ID, and soon, Railway Mail Service employees started adding tokens and tags.

Owney ended up with 1017 tags, including a host of pre-1900 dog licences from Washington, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Nebraska cities. He lit the tag trend on fire, to be sure. Luckily, your dog doesn’t need 1017. One will do quite nicely.

What designer tag do you think Owney would wear? Design your own Owney-approved tag today!

Why Buy a Licence? Where Do Pet Licence Fees Go?

Your DocuPet tag acts as both a licence and your pet’s ticket home if he or she ever sneaks out and gets lost. As for licence fees? They go right back into the community. While each

jurisdiction decides exactly how the funds are used, typically, these funds provide critical revenue for local animal shelters or animal welfare programs.

DocuPet’s shelter partners have reported that as much as a third of their operating budget comes from licensing fees. (More trivia facts for your back pocket!) 

Shelter employees and volunteers work tirelessly to care for millions of pets each year. While their love, compassion, and empathy are virtually infinite – the same is not true of their budgets. Shelters must raise the necessary funds to support their meaningful work, which includes not only providing food and space, but, in many cases, offering services such as low-cost veterinary care, adoption and rehoming services, and low or no-cost spay/neuter programs (to only name a few). They do so much with so little! 

Often, shelters are bursting at the seams, and unfortunately, abandonment and surrenders have skyrocketed during and after the pandemic. In a lot of cases, shelters are allocating their time and resources to lost pets who actually have loving homes. Space is limited, and money is tight. 

Buying a licence means better funding for your local animal shelter. Better funding means more dogs and cats are brought in off the streets or out of dangerous environments, given care, and, hopefully, connected with a loving home. And remember: these shelters are the frontline folks who will help bring your pet home safe if they ever get lost.

Pet licensing is a tail as old as time… licensing fees are a great way to be a responsible pet owner, help furballs in need, support your local animal shelter, and tip your hat to Owney the Magnificent Mail Carrier. Even better, it’s never been easier or cuter to buy your pet’s licence.  If you live in a DocuPet licensing community, you’ve got access to the quickest and easiest online solution available. If you live outside of a DocuPet licensing community, heck, we still urge you to license! A quick internet search should show you how and where to license in your community.