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City to drop rabies certification requirement to obtain pet license

Soon, Auburn residents won't need a rabies certification to obtain a pet license.

That requirement, said City Councilman Bill Peloza, had been a downward drag on pet license sales, which are vital to keeping the Auburn Valley Humane Society's Animal Shelter on A Street Southeast in operation.

"We did it to help increase pet license sales," Peloza, chairman of the Municipal Services Committee, said Monday.

While state law requires that pets be vaccinated for rabies every three years, the new rules will eliminate the necessity of documenting the shots with King County and then providing paperwork proof to get the license.

The AVHS needs healthy pet licensing revenues to repay a $250,000 loan the City of Auburn made it in 2010 to build the shelter.

"Our pet licensing in Auburn has been slow because we had that rabies requirement. Pet licensing is the life blood of the shelter," Peloza said.

The City and the AVHS sell pet licenses.

Through November, City Finance Director Shelley Coleman said recently, pet licensing revenues were about $150,000.

"We're not doing as well as the County did," Coleman said.

Because King County Animal Control does not require the rabies certification, Municipal Services Committee members studied the county's comparatively fatter pet license sales revenues, comparing them with what the City had achieved to date.

Committee members recently talked to veterinarians and shelter director Phil Morgan, who maintained that eliminating the rabies certification requirement would pose a low risk to public safety.

The real rabies danger, veterinarian Don Edwards, a founding member of the AVHS, told the committee is infected bats.

"Your best way to ensure humans aren't exposed to rabies is to vaccinate your pets, because pets come into contact with bats more than people do," Edwards said. "All rabies for Washington in at least the last 100 years have come from bats."

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