Should veterinarians report rabies shots to the county?

Hearing's set on proposed ordinance that would help identify unlicensed dogs

Residents can weigh in on a proposed new ordinance that would require veterinarians to report rabies vaccinations to the county department that licenses dogs.

The county will hold a hearing on the ordinance, which is intended to increase the number of licensed dogs in Jackson County and boost revenue for animal control, at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 20, at the county auditorium, 10 S. Oakdale Ave., Medford. The proposed ordinance can be viewed at

If you go

What: Hearing on proposed ordinance requiring veterinarians to report rabies vaccinations to county department that licenses dogs.

When: 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 20.

Where: County auditorium, 10 S. Oakdale Ave., Medford.

Information about the ordinance: The ordinance can be viewed at

The ordinance would require veterinarians to report all rabies vaccinations within 60 days to the county's Health and Human Services Department, which issues dog licenses.

Dog owners with unlicensed animals would receive letters from the county reminding them to license their pet.

Jackson Baures, county Environmental Health Services program manager, said though owners can be fined $75 for an unlicensed dog, officials want to focus on voluntary compliance the first year.

"We're going to have to consider how we deal with enforcement," Baures said. "We're basically going to have to evaluate the program as it goes on.

"We want to start this program off in a very positive way."

Licensing revenue accounts for about one third of animal control's budget, or about $443,000. Counties that have passed similar ordinances, including Multnomah and Lane counties, have seen their licensing revenue double, officials said.

"Within around three to five years for both of those, they ended up doubling their licensing compliance," said Baures.

It costs $20, $35 or $49 for one-, two- or three-year dog licenses, respectively, Jackson County's website shows. For non-neutered animals, the fees are $30, $53 or $75. The county licenses all dogs within its boundaries, regardless of whether they live in urban or rural areas.

Veterinarians have expressed concern that the ordinance might discourage dog owners from getting vaccinations for their pets, increase vaccination costs and create a perception of veterinarians as a law enforcement entity. Baures said Multnomah County veterinarians voiced similar concerns, but those have been allayed.

"Ultimately they support it now that it's been in place for several years," he said.

County officials added that sending letters is an alternative to sending representatives door-to-door to enforce the ordinance, as has been done in the past.

"In this way, it's just a lot more efficient way to address licensing compliance," Baures said.

The ordinance would increase the chance of lost pets being returned to their owners, he said. Licensed dogs that are retrieved by animal control after running away receive a free ride home.

"We're really trying to make this licensing a benefit to responsible pet owners," Baures said. "In the big picture, it's designed to help everyone involved."

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at

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