LUMBERTON — The director of the Health Department is expected to ask the Robeson County Board of Commissioners tonight to establish a privilege license fee for the ownership of a pet.
Bill Smith said the idea of a $12 annual fee has been floated by the Board of Health.
“It stemmed from the bites that maimed and killed children two years ago,” Smith said. “The Board of Health felt this would lead to responsible ownership as none of these pets were vaccinated.”
The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the county administrative building at 701 N. Elm St. in Lumberton. The board normally meets on the first Monday of each month, but the meeting was rescheduled because Monday was Labor Day. The Robesonian will provide a live video stream on Facebook.
Smith said the fee would also provide a revenue stream to hire help that is needed at the Robeson County Animal Shelter in St. Pauls. He said a grant provided through the Lumber River Council of Governments had been paying for the help, but the grant expires at the end of this month.
“We cannot meet state standards for cleaning without additional help, so the fee would go towards attendants, a clerical person and an additional Animal Control officer subsequently,” he said. “I would hope any additional revenue above expenses would go towards an eventual shelter replacement.”
The fee would be for cats, dogs and ferrets, according to Smith. The fee initially would be assessed when the animal was vaccinated for rabies. Thereafter a notice would be sent to the pet owner when the fee is due.
Smith said the county estimates there are about 40,000 cats, dogs and ferrets in the unincorporated parts of Robeson County, and he expects an initial compliance rate of 30 percent if the fee is implemented. That figure should rise as additional revenue enables the hiring of another Animal Control officer, he said.
If the commissioners approve the fee, it will apply only to pet owners in the unincorporated parts of the county. Smith said the Health Department would work with municipalities in trying to get them to adopt something similar.
Editor Donnie Douglas can be reached by calling 910-416-5649 or at [email protected]