By Aila Boyd

The Botetourt County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to authorize a public hearing to amendments to the county’s code that addresses dog licenses. The public hearing is scheduled for the board’s June 25 meeting.

Instead of having annual and three-year dog licenses, the proposed amendments create a lifetime license that will cost $10. At the moment, a one-year dog license costs $5 and a three-year license costs $10.

The only way that the lifetime license could be rendered invalid under the proposed amendments is if the dog’s rabies vaccination expires. However, upon the renewal of the dog’s rabies vaccination, the validity of the license would be reinstated.

The proposed amendments were sparked by legislation from 2017 that the Virginia General Assembly adopted that provided localities with the option of offering lifetime dog licenses. The legislation arose out of a study that the General Assembly authorized that found that the animal licensing process at the time was “burdensome on law abiding citizens.”

Bill Arney, the county treasurer, requested the proposed amendments after observing how other counties have enacted lifetime dog licenses. He explained that after the General Assembly’s decision, he wanted to wait and see how other counties dealt with the provisions before moving Botetourt County in that direction. Arney reported that the treasurers from five of the counties he spoke with said that the change was well received.

Counties that have enacted similar provisions include Culpeper, Hanover, Madison, Orange, Patrick, Stafford, and York.

Although he originally thought that he would wait until next year before bringing the proposed amendments before the Board of Supervisors, Arney explained that the new software that his department is using will potentially aid in making the transition smoother than it otherwise would have been.

Richard Bailey, who represents the Fincastle District on the Board of Supervisors, said that as a veterinarian, the proposed shift to a lifetime license is of interest to him. He noted that the one issue he foresees with the change is that residents might confuse a lifetime license with a lifetime vaccination.

Arney said that his office will work to create literature on the license process for veterinarian offices to hand out to dog owners.

Dog licenses help promote rabies compliance, provide funding sources for rabies clinics, and offer a way to identify dog owners.

The 2017 legislation left in place the requirement that veterinarians send rabies vaccination forms to local governments and that local governments send out late notices.

Other proposed amendments would alter the county’s Animals and Fowl Ordinance, which the county noted hasn’t been revised in a major way since the 1990s, bringing it up to date with the current Code of Virginia.