A plan to at least double the registration fees for pets neither spayed nor neutered passed the Kane County Board executive committee this week, but not without some questions from board members.
The animal control department wants to raise the fee -- currently $10 for one year and $25 for three years -- that veterinarians collect when an animal receives its rabies inoculation.
State law allows this, and it's meant to fight pet overpopulation by encouraging owners to sterilize their pets.
Kane County Board member Mike Kenyon said it seems unfair to dog breeders, whose animals rarely run loose, and to owners of pets too young to be spayed. Board member Jeannette Mihalec, however, said the public health committee agreed with staff members that breeding is a business, and the extra cost can be recouped in the sale price of the pets.
Kenyon also said it may be unfair to owners of puppies and kittens, as veterinarians sometimes wait until a pet is several months to a year old before spaying or neutering. Mihalec said her kittens were neutered at 8 weeks old. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says sterilization can be done as early as 6 weeks, depending on the size of the animal. The American Veterinary Medical Association supports early sterilization. Kane County requires puppies and kittens to receive their first rabies shot by 12 weeks.
Committee member Cathy Hurlbut asked why the fee for a one-year registration is being raised 150 percent, but the three-year registration 100 percent. Mihalec didn't know the reason, but promised to find out before the county board meeting Tuesday.
The committee also agreed to pass along a recommendation to let the animal control department postpone part of its 2012 mortgage payment until November 2013. The public health committee had approved a two-year extension, but the finance committee changed it to one. The animal control department borrowed money from a county capital fund to build its animal shelter in Geneva, but has asked for a reprieve, saying making the full payment would leave it with an inadequate cash reserve.
Kane County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay warned board members that the animal control department should be examining the fees it charges to municipalities to pick up and house stray animals, and making sure those fees cover the cost of doing so, including paying for the building. She said the county isn't legally obligated to impound strays running loose in municipalities, only those in unincorporated areas.