MARYSVILLE — The city of Marysville has been transferring stray animals to the Everett Animal Shelter for decades, and while the Smith Island location of the shelter is convenient for many Marysville residents looking to drop off strays, the city is hoping to lower costs by encouraging responsible pet ownership.
“The goal of the city is to create a community culture that advocates for responsible pet ownership,” said Marysville Police Cmdr. Robb Lamoureux. “When abandoned pets end up at the animal shelter, it comes at a cost that is ultimately borne by the taxpayer.”
Marysville’s animal control policies provide a means of licensing dogs and cats, impounding animals and controlling animal behavior so that they do not pose a nuisance for residents, according to city officials.
The city pays for each animal that it brings to the shelter, and in an effort to save on rising shelter costs for housing impounded animals, they are offering free lifetime pet licenses for all spayed and neutered dogs or cats.
“We definitely encourage spaying and neutering animals,” said Doug Buell, Marysville community information officer. “If people can show that their pets are spayed or neutered, they can license those pets for free with the city.”
Spaying and neutering pets can reduce the number of stray, orphaned or injured animals, according to Buell.
“We do that to encourage more people to get animal licenses, as well,” he said.
The city requires all cats and dogs to be licensed, and charges a $25 annual fee for unaltered animals and $10 for unaltered animals with a microchip. All spayed or neutered pets are licensed for life, free of charge.
An animal license application can be downloaded from the city of Marysville website at www.marysvillewa.gov or picked up at City Hall at 1049 State Ave.
While the city wants to obtain voluntary compliance from citizens, if that doesn’t happen, law enforcement’s approach will be to issue a citation.
“To me, a responsible pet owner is one who spays or neuters, licenses their pets, and keeps them in their yard,” said Dave Vasconi, community service officer with the Marysville Police Department. “Animal owners are great when they really love their pets — and most here in Marysville do a good job. But there are always some who don’t.”
The city pays $155 for any animal that is brought to the Everett Animal Shelter. In 2010, Marysville spent $129,724 in shelter costs, however that number is decreasing each year — in 2011, the city paid $81,580 to the shelter and in 2012 the city paid $60,490.
In 2010 the Marysville Municipal Code was changed to require owners who were surrendering animals to the shelter to pay for the costs up-front. This resulted in a significant decrease in animal shelter costs billed to the police department, according to Lamoureux.
Another way of driving down costs for the city is for pet owners to have their animals microchipped. A microchip is a small device implanted under the skin of a pet. Once registered with owner’s information, a scanner can be used to detect the chip and look up registered information, should the animal ever get lost. Most veterinarians, shelters and police departments own such a scanner, including the Marysville Police Department, and if the stray animal is microchipped, it can be returned to its owner without ever being transferred to the shelter. To encourage residents to microchip their pets, the city of Marysville offers a price decrease for the licensing of an unaltered microchipped pet, while still offering free licensing for altered animals.
There are many local shelters and rescues that offer low-cost spay and neuter surgeries, as well as low-cost microchipping services.
The Northwest Organization for Animal Help offers spaying and neutering services for both cats and dogs, as well as microchipping, and often has monthly or seasonal specials for an even smaller fee. PAWS in Lynnwood is another resource that offers spay and neuter services at a nominal fee for low-income pet owners.
For more information on the Everett Animal Shelter, call 425-257-6000. For more information or to schedule an appointment at N.O.A.H. call 360-629-7055. For more information on PAWS in Lynnwood, call 425-787-2500.