Chicago’s Daley administration has quietly impose a five-fold increase in the annual license fee for dogs who have not been spayed or neutered — from $10 to $50.

Dog owners have been thumbing their noses at the city’s mandatory dog license for decades. Chicago has roughly 500,000 dogs. It sells only 20,072 licenses.

Why, then, did the Daley administration quietly impose a five-fold increase in the annual license fee for dogs not spayed or neutered — from $10 to $50? The answer is that City Hall has overriding concerns.

"Spaying and neutering prevents aggression in animals, prevents them from roaming throughout the city, prevents dog attacks. That’s our goal," said Anne Kent of the city’s Animal Care and Control.

The $50 fee came to light Thursday. It took effect Jan. 1 and was only the second hike in Chicago’s history of issuing dog licenses. The license fee for neutered dogs remains at $5.

Meanwhile, City Clerk Miguel del Valle has introduced an ordinance that would pave the way for dog licenses to be sold on the Internet and for the city to issue a three-year license, in addition to the annual one.

Jay Rowell, deputy director of the clerk’s office, said del Valle also is exploring the possibility of shifting to either a sticker to be placed on the back of the rabies tag or to a plastic license. And he’s forming a task force of dog lovers to explore ways to "add value" to the dog license by providing owners with information on dog laws, dog-friendly areas and how to access them.

"If we can increase revenue from that, it’ll be earmarked for Animal Care to hire additional officers for enforcement," Rowell said.

Kent is promising a licensing crackdown. She has authority to hire a new inspector to add to her team of three.

"I would hope that people err on the side of wanting to get their license, rather than have an Animal Care and Control officer find that they don’t have a license and issue" a $300 citation, Kent said.

Via the Chicago Tribune