As pets, dogs and cats need care and attention. And, if these pets live within International Falls city limits, they also need a license.

Licenses need to be renewed annually and expire on Dec. 31 of every year, according to Betty Bergstrom, International Falls assistant city administrator. The licensing fee is $4 per dog and $2 per cat. A single household is allowed to license up to three dogs and three cats, Bergstrom said.

This year, however, Bergstrom acknowledged that very few licenses have been purchased.

She says she is unsure if the lack of licenses purchased this year stems from lack of education on the city’s part, or that people are unwilling to pay the fee associated with licensing.

“The fee is very minimal,” she said. “I don’t see that as a problem. We just haven’t seen many pet owners come through our door looking to get a license.”

An ordinance drafted by the city says that “it is unlawful for the owner of any dog or cat, four months of age or more, to fail to obtain a license” from the city.

Dogs and cats that have been separated from their owners and found by the police department or other members of the community are typically brought to the Borderland Humane Society, which operates a holding facility.

BHS volunteer Kallie Kantos-Fritz said it is much easier for the organization to identify the owners of an animal that is lost when the owners have purchased the city-mandated license.

Kantos-Fritz, too, echoed Bergstrom’s comments of the low number of licenses purchased this year. “Very seldom do we have animals come into the holding facility with city license tags. The city and the BHS do keep track of the licenses that have been issued for the past few years,” she said.

Bergstrom said the benefits of licensing dogs and cats should pose as the biggest incentive for people to abide by the ordinance.

“If a dog or a cat does get picked up by animal control, they are more easily reconnected with their owner,” she explained.

Kantos-Fritz encouraged pet owners to purchase a city license for the sake of their animal.

“Animals get stressed out when they are not with their family,” she said. “They are emotional beings.” 

Both the city and BHS provide dog and cat licenses to pet owners. Along with the fee, a form is completed and a numbered tag is given to the pet owner. As required by the ordinance, the tag must be securely attached to the animal’s collar. Should the tag get lost, duplicates are available with the presentation of the receipt showing the payment of the license fee for the current year.

“It is really important people do this,” Bergstrom said. “For their sake and for their pets.”

“Everything is about the safety and well-being of the animals,” Kantos-Fritz concluded. “Purchasing a city license each year is just another step that owners should take.”

For more information on dog and cat licenses, call the Falls Municipal Building at 283-9484 or BHS at 283-9276.