Richmond, it turns out, is crawling with fugitive animals.
An estimated 56,128 dogs and cats live in the city. Of those, only 685 are legally registered, according to licensing data provided by city officials last week.
That means 98.8 percent of pets living in Richmond are doing so in defiance of city code, which requires owners to pay $10 annually for dog or cat tags.
Owners of unlicensed pets can be fined $15 for a first offense and $25 for subsequent offenses.
Facing rampant lawlessness, is the city expanding enforcement?
“The office mailed notification to residents in November and they continue to receive pet license applications,” city spokesman Michael Wallace writes in an email. “[Animal care and control] works year round to educate residents that all cats and dogs over the age of 4 months require a city pet license.”
The city took in a little less than $7,000 by issuing pet licenses this year. If half of the estimated dogs and cats were registered by their pet owners in the city, the figure would jump to $280,000.
Is that a reasonable goal?
Henrico County pulls it off. Cats don’t require licenses there, but dogs do, and a spokesman says 22,904 are registered. Using a dogs-per-household estimation from the American Humane Society, that translates to 50 percent of the county’s dog population.
Chesterfield County, which also requires only dog licenses, doesn’t do quite as well. A spokesman for the county says 14,210 dogs have valid licenses. That’s 34 percent of the estimated dog population.