Kris Weiskopf: a refresher on Manatee County's pet ordinance

February 26, 2013 

A few main sections of our Animal Ordinance 12-10 are the most common and important to understand. I plan to provide examples to help you relate to our everyday complaints.

Rabies vaccinations, license certificates and tags are required for your pets.

What is a license certificate and tag? A license certificate is received from your veterinarian containing important information about your pet, rabies vaccination information and information about you, including your name, address and phone number so we know where the pet belongs. The license certificate is required in the animal ordinance, and you must purchase this from your veterinarian to be in compliance. The license certificate must be renewed each year.

A license tag is also required and your pet must wear this tag for identification. The tag is a small, round stainless steel circle with Manatee County and a number stamped into it.

This tag is the only tag recognized to go along with your license certificate. You may have your veterinarian's tag or your own identification tag attached to your pet's collar or harness, but the Manatee County tag is required. The tag is issued by Manatee County and distributed by your veterinarian. The license tag is permanent and stays with your pet forever.

The best way to explain the license certificate and tag is to consider a pet license like your car's license tag and registration. Your license plate is attached to your car, just like the pet tag must be attached to your pet's collar or harness. Your car tag stays with your car, just like the tag does for your pet.

Each year you must renew your car license by paying the fee and getting a new vehicle registration, just like the license certificate for your pet. Your veterinarian will have each of these if you do not already have them for your pet.

Now, along with your license certificate and tag, a rabies vaccination is also required. This vaccination, which must be given to your pet by your veterinarian, is important for the control of rabies. This is not only an animal ordinance requirement, but it is a state law as well.

Our animal ordinance recognizes one-year and a three-year rabies vaccinations, whichever your veterinarian gives to your pet. And remember that, even if your pet receives a three-year rabies vaccination, the license certificate must be renewed every year.

If your pet gets loose and is wearing the required tag on its collar or harness, there is a good chance our officers could return your pet to you immediately. And, if you are not home, we can leave a notice on your door letting you know where your pet is so you don't have to worry and can pick it up from our shelter.

Or, if a neighbor calls us with the tag number, we are able to provide your name and contact information so they can get your pet home to you. Any way you look at it, the tag is your pet's way home.

Please make sure your pet's vaccinations are up to date and you have a current license certificate. See your veterinarian if the shots are not current and to get your license certificate and tag.

If you would like to read the entire animal ordinance, it is available on our website at www.mymanatee.org/pets. Scroll to the bottom and click on the "Animal Ordinance" tab and you will find our ordinance, which is also searchable to make it easier to find a specific subject.

Are you ready to give a forever home to a wonderful pet? Look no further because we have the dog or cat of your dreams right here at Animal Services. Check our website or visit our shelter in Palmetto or our Downtown Adoption Center in Bradenton today.

Help us become a no-kill community in Manatee County! We are not there yet and we can do better!

If you never have to look into the eyes of a dog or cat and make a choice, you are lucky. One day, we all would like to be lucky too.

Kris Weiskopf, chief of Manatee County Animal Services, writes this weekly column for the Bradenton Herald.

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