TAVARES — The Lake County Animal Services Division is responding to recent media attention regarding animal licensing that has spurred much discussion in the community.
“Many pet owners are inquiring as to why the county suddenly is requiring animals to be licensed,” said Gregg Welstead, director of Lake County’s Conservation & Compliance Department. “The requirement is not new, and in fact, has been in place since 1975 for all cats and dogs.”
The current fee for an animal license is $5 for each sterilized animal, or $11 for one that has not been spayed or neutered. The license is effective the same period as the animal’s rabies vaccination, so an animal receiving a one-year vaccination will receive a license valid for one year. Animals receiving a three-year vaccination will have a license good for the full three years.
“The primary reason pets must be licensed is to help prevent the spread of rabies,” said Welstead. “Rabies is a constant health threat, and rabies vaccinations are good for animals’ health. If it is exposed to another animal or wildlife that might have rabies, this vaccination could be the only thing that will save it from a lengthy quarantine or being put down.”
Additionally, rabies is 100-percent fatal for humans if not properly and promptly treated, so it also is a matter of public health. Rabies vaccination of dogs, cats and ferrets is also a state requirement and in county code.
Licensing also helps the Animal Services staff identify family pets, should an animal become lost. The fees from licensing are used to care for animals at the Animal Shelter and investigate complaints about stray animals, among other services. Other goals of animal licensing are to promote responsible pet ownership and to reduce the tragedies associated with lost pets and pet overpopulation.
The only thing necessary for a Lake County animal license is proof of a current rabies vaccination for a pet. Some Lake County veterinarians offer licenses as part of normal care at the time of licensing. If a vet does not, proof of rabies vaccination may be mailed to Lake County Animal Services, 28123 County Road 561, Tavares, FL 32778, with a check for the fee, and request that the license be mailed in return.
Another way to get a license is to simply bring a copy of the vaccination certificate or record provided by the vet to the Animal Shelter, located at 28123 County Road 561 in Tavares, just south of the Lake County Landfill and Department of Motor Vehicles. Business hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. The shelter is closed the third Saturday of each month.
For questions related to animal licensing or to adopt a new pet, visit the Animal Services Division or call 352-343-9688.