Registering your pet is the law. According to the code of Virginia’s article five, pets 4 months or older are required to be licensed, which consists of a license receipt and a metal tag that must be securely attached to a collar and worn whenever your pet is off your property. However, following the law is not the only reason you should perform this simple task. Our team at Columbia Pike Animal Hospital shares eight reasons why registering your pet is so important.

#1: Registering your pet saves you money

The average annual cost to register your pet is around $10, while failure to purchase a pet license is considered a class IV misdemeanor, which can carry up to a $250 fine. Registering your pet can save you a significant amount of money.

#2: Registering your pet provides protective identification

Properly identifying your pet drastically increases the likelihood you will be reunited with them should they go missing. Nearly 90% of lost, unidentified pets are never returned to their owners, and unfortunately, many of these pets are euthanized. In addition to registering your pet, microchipping your pet provides further protection in case they go missing.

#3: Registering your pet protects them from disease

Virginia’s General Assembly decided to mandate pet licensing to help prevent the spread of rabies in the state, and to register your pet, you must prove that they have a current rabies vaccination. Rabies is a deadly viral disease that can be transmitted if your pet is bitten by an infected animal. In addition to dogs and cats, bats, racoons, skunks, and foxes are common rabies carriers. Once the virus enters the body, the pathogen travels to the brain and attacks the nervous system. Signs can take 3 to 12 weeks to manifest, and can include difficulty swallowing, uncoordinated movements, behavioral changes, lethargy, fever, decreased appetite, and vomiting. Other important facts you should know about rabies include:

  • Cats are more commonly infected — Cats are infected by rabies much more commonly than dogs. Cats have been the most frequently reported rabid domestic animal since 1992, likely because many cat owners fail to keep their cat up to date on their rabies vaccination.
  • Indoor pets can be infected — Your pet indoor pet can still be exposed to a rabid animal who enters your home. Bats are the most common rabid animal in the United States, and a bat that enters your home could attack your pet. In addition, indoor pets have been known to escape from an unmonitored door at unexpected moments.
  • Rabies infection is deadly — Rabies infection in mammals is almost always fatal. If your pet is exposed to rabies, or suspected of exposure, they will be euthanized or quarantined. Once a pet exhibits clinical signs, survival is highly unlikely.
  • No testing is available for live animals — Diagnosing rabies involves testing brain tissue once the animal is dead. Quarantining a pet and waiting for them to exhibit clinical signs is the only way to determine if a living pet has rabies.
  • No treatment is available for rabies — No medications or therapies are available to treat rabies. The only way to protect your pet is to keep their vaccinations up to date.

#4: Registering your pet is proof that they are not a community health risk

Many dog parks, boarding facilities, doggy day-care facilities, and grooming facilities require proof of rabies vaccination before they will allow your pet to enter the premises. Having your pet registered ensures this criteria is met.

#5: Registering your pet provides funds for animal services

The money from pet licensing fees is used to fund important programs for pets and their owners, including care and housing for stray and abandoned pets, animal neglect and cruelty case investigations, animal emergency rescue and response services, homeless pet adoptions to new families, low-cost spay and neuter programs for low-income area residents, and community education and outreach. By registering your pet, you are making your community a more pet-friendly environment.

#6: Registering your pet reduces overcrowding in shelters

Your registered pet is much more likely to be returned to you if they go missing, making space for more stray and abandoned pets who are in need.

#7: Registering your pet establishes ownership

When you register your pet, you are established as your pet’s owner, which could be helpful if your pet is stolen, or in custody dispute cases.

#8: Registering your pet is easy

To register your pet, you need only a current rabies vaccination certificate, and an appropriate form of payment. 

Registering your pet is part of being a responsible pet owner, and the process is easy and inexpensive. If you want to ensure your pet is up to date on their rabies vaccination, contact our team at Columbia Pike Animal Hospital, so we can ensure they fulfill the registration requirements.