I just went online and bought a license for my cat. No written test, no road test, just a simple form to fill in and $15. About the price of a bag of litter. Proof of licensing was immediately emailed to me, and the tag will follow in the mail. Now my cat is licensed to drive in the city. Now if only I could get him some opposable thumbs. Just kidding, he doesn't need opposable thumbs to drive. But they really have made it easy to get your license, with one simple online transaction.
Cat licensing was a very controversial part of the "Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw". The stakeholders went back and forth on whether to oppose or endorse the measure, with the final outcome being a minimal license fee ($15) for altered pets (spayed/neutered), and a more substantial fee ($50) for intact animals. Also, an agreement was made to put 50% of the gross revenue towards local spay/neuter initiatives.
Which spay/neuter initiatives? That will be decided over the next year, after consultation with the stakeholders. The city will collect the revenues, and then disperse them after the first full year of collection.
Most jurisdictions have some form of licensing for cats, with revenues going to either local animal services to deal with stray/abandoned animals, or to spay/neuter projects to help stem the tide of unwanted animals.
For low income families needing assistance in having a cat spay/neutered, the Winnipeg Humane Society SNAP program offers low cost procedures with proof of income. They can be reached at 204-888-7627.
The City recommends that you keep the tag (which will be mailed to you if you complete the license online) on a breakaway collar on the cat. That way, if they do escape, they will likely have the collar and tag on when they are captured, and will easily be returned to you. But they will also accept a visible tattoo number or microchip number if you register it with animal services as acceptable ID for cats that won't wear collars.
The fine for having an unlicensed animal in the city? Minimum of $250. Do we have to worry about someone busting our door down searching for unlicensed pets? I don't think so. But if your pet does get out and is found to be unlicensed, you could be fined. Or if the bylaw enforcement is called in for a complaint, and you are found to have unlicensed pets, again, you could face charges.
This initiative is designed to be a largely voluntary program, designed to benefit the pet community, and thereby encourage compliance. You are urged to participate, not because the city needs the revenue, but because in doing so, you are helping the support structure that is there when your pet needs it most. As well, you are contributing to reducing the number of unwanted pets. Win/win, really.