Capital News Service
RICHMOND – A bill allowing local governments to provide lifetime licenses for cats and dogs has been approved unanimously by the General Assembly.
House Bill 1477, by Del. Robert Orrock, R-Caroline County, would add the lifetime licensing provision to existing state law on dog and cat licenses.
The Senate approved the bill 40-0 on Tuesday, after a nearly identical version cleared the House of Delegates on a 98-0 vote on Jan. 30. The two chambers still must work out minor differences before the legislation can go to Gov. Terry McAuliffe to be signed into law.
The lifetime license would be valid if the animal’s owner resides in the locality and keeps up the animal’s rabies vaccinations. The bill also states that local ordinances can require an animal to have an identifying microchip.
The bill would remove the minimum annual tax for a dog or cat, making it no more than $10 each year or a maximum tax of $50 for a lifetime license.
In addition, if an animal’s tag is lost, destroyed or stolen, the legislation sets a $1 fee for getting a duplicate tag. To get another tag for the animal, an owner must apply to the treasurer or agent who issued the original license and show the original license receipt. With an affidavit from the owner, the treasurer can then issue another license tag that the owner must immediately put on the animal’s collar.
The time for an owner to pay the required license tax would be changed from before Feb. 1 for the year to within one month after the due date. If the owner fails to pay, the court can order confiscation and disposition of the animal.
Owners must start paying the tax no later than 30 days after their animal has aged four months, or no later than 30 days after they adopt an animal 4 months old or older. The tax is then paid each year during the animal’s life.
Owners with trained guide dogs or service dogs that serve disabled people continue to be exempt from paying the license tax.
Local ordinances may establish different tax amounts for owners with spayed or neutered dogs or cats versus animals that aren’t spayed or neutered. With the amendment, ordinances can’t tax more than $10 a year on either.
Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University's Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.