The benefits of pet ownership for humans are well documented. Owning a pet is associated with better physical and psychological health, including lower blood pressure and anxiety. Specially trained animals such as service or certified therapy dogs take these benefits one step further.
In our communities, animals require licensing. The licenses and fees are instrumental in ensuring that pet owners appropriate vaccinate their pets; they also provide safety benefits by paying for animal control officers and animal shelter services.
In Pierce County, cities are inconsistent about who is allowed a reduced or free pet license. According to the municipal codes of Tacoma, Lakewood, Puyallup, University Place and Fife, only Tacoma and Fife allow senior and disabled individuals to have their fee reduced. Most cities, except Fife, will waive the fee completely for service animals.
Tacoma sets an example other cities should follow. By charging disabled individuals full price on licensing, other cities discourage disabled individuals from pet ownership or create financial barriers for their most vulnerable citizens.
People of all abilities deserve the benefits of pet ownership, regardless of their means to pay for licensing.