Is it time for Minneapolis to hire a pet czar?

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Cat and dog owners in Minneapolis are required by law to license their pets with the city before the animals turn 4 months old. In reality few pay the fee, and it’s largely unenforced. Of the estimated 107,000 dogs in the city, only 9,007 were licensed last year, according to Minneapolis Animal Care & Control. The licensing gap for cats is even wider. Of 115,000 felines in the city, just 124 were licensed.

The city is studying ways to increase compliance with the law, and today the City Council’s Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee will discuss logistics for hiring a full-time pet licensing coordinator. A draft outline of the position written by staff says the official would be responsible for making it easier for residents to license pets, then doubling the numbers and increasing revenue by $275,000.

The proposal has prompted some barking on the Minneapolis Issues List.

“We are short cops/ firefighters and could probably use city dollars for tons of things but we are going to probably get this,” writes ParkWatch gadfly Liz Wielinski of the Columbia Park neighborhood.

Mike Thompson of the Windom neighborhood says, “This is what gets me (among many things). The creation of another level of bureaucracy and spending more money to administrate the bureaucracy. Evidently unlicensed kitties are such a priority in Minneapolis that we can spend even more money. Great. Between this and banning disposable coffee cups, I really have to wonder what’s going on downtown.”

One Northsider defends the concept, noting the city’s current lack of enforcement when it comes to unlicensed and neglected pitbulls roaming the neighborhood.

“The irresponsible owners know that there is no enforcement,” writes Gene Swanson of the Lind-Bohanon neighborhood. “We need to address this problem head on. With more dangerous dogs and dogs running loose, we need consistent enforcement of existing laws, and perhaps re-examine the laws we do have to make them stronger. (and, no, not breed bans)”

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