Thurston County received 21.6% more animal-related calls in 2024, pet licensing encouraged


Thurston County’s Joint Animal Services Commission (JASCOM) Executive Director Sarah Hock reports that the organization received 21.6% more calls in 2024 than in 2023.

Thurston County recorded 43% of the overall calls, with a total of 180 in 2024, compared to 140 in 2023.

From January to February this year, most of the calls from Thurston were attributed to stray animals, followed by enforcement, cruelty/neglect, bites, and police assistance in descending order.

“We are going to be pulling the data in March so that we can then give quarterly comparisons of 2024. That way it's not such a long waiting period,” said Hock.

Pet licensing

Annual licensing can be done online or in-person.
Annual licensing can be done online or in-person.

Olympia, Lacey, and Tumwater require licenses for all canines and cats in city limits. The license for all dogs in the county is mandatory, while the license for cats is voluntary. Licensing fees range from $10 to $28, depending on whether the animal is neutered.

Even if the owner claims the pet “never goes out,” a license is still required. Within Olympia, potbelly pigs must also be licensed.

Licensing fees are considered direct revenue, meaning the income directly offsets a jurisdiction's assessment per item rather than per capita basis.

“Part of direct revenues are licensing, adoptions, and reclaims,” said Hock.

The county’s direct revenues from licensing amounted to $48,316 for a total of 4,026 licenses in 2021, $50,354 for 4,112 licenses in 2022, and $51,827 for 4,238 licenses in 2023.

Hock shared the following benefits of the county’s pet licensing:

  • Studies have shown that a visual ID tag is the best way for pets to find their way home during the first 24 hours.
  • Licensed pets get a free ride home the first time it is found.
  • Licensed pets get a longer care period. When found, your licensed pet will be safely cared for at the shelter for a longer time.
  • JASCOM recommends microchipping as a secondary form of ID if your pet’s collar or tag pulls off.
  • Microchips can move within the body over time.
  • Not all microchip scanners are created equal in terms of reading the microchip.

When there's identification on a pet, the stray hold increases from 48 to 96 hours (about 4 days) to give a longer time for that animal to be reclaimed.

Licenses are renewed annually.


5 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • C K

    we do not need more stinkin taxes, fees, etc. enough is enough. No more bureaucratic bs. Cost of living in Bidenomics is already too costly for the average citizen. STOP making it harder for hard-working citizens.

    Monday, March 25 Report this

  • JW

    If I never let my kid out of the house should I apply for a license and pay the fee for that child or just the ones I take outside with me?

    How about a fee for the air I breathe inside my house versus everyone's air outside?

    Tuesday, March 26 Report this

  • FirstOtter

    The statements that a stray pet gets a free ride home only applies to pets within the incorporated boundaries of the county. If you live in UNincorporated Thurston County, the JAS does NOT come and get stray pets. There's a trio of dogs that were dumped in our area several months ago. They're wearing collars but won't allow anyone near them to see if they're wearing tags. Even if they were, JAS was called and said, in essence, we aren't dog catchers. They refused to send someone out to catch them.

    A few years ago, a bum abandoned his beat up junker of an RV next to the Black River, in a boat launch. He also abandoned two cats, who were seen under it, in the area, and probably going in and out, as the doors had been left open (in the rain...). When we called JAS we were told, the cats can't be considered strays as they're living in the RV.

    And when I captured a feral tom cat, it was killing the songbirds in my backyard. I it to the JAS I was grilled like I was a criminal. It's your cat, right? No. I'm allergic to cats. Well, did you feed it. No, it's in the cage. You need an appointment, if youdon't have an appointment then we can't take the cat. I guess I was supposed to just let it die in the trap? Then they told me okay we'll take it, neuter it, and then you can take it back to your house and release it.

    NO. That's insanity.

    A portion of my property taxes goes to funding the JAS. I'm not getting my money's worth. While I agree that JAS is necessary, because of people who abandon or let their dogs and cats roam, still, I wish the JAS wuold actually do something more than just shake us down for tags.

    Tuesday, March 26 Report this

  • MaKane

    I've lived in Thurston County for 33 years and just found out about pet licensing a couple years ago, I've spoken to several friends and family members who've lived here as long or longer, and they hadn't heard of it either. What this neglects is that the number of pets per household is also limited by law to a total of any combination of two cats or dogs, many residents of Thurston County have more than two pets, asking them to come forward with licensing when they are otherwise not compliant with the law could leave folks feeling like they are risk of losing their pets, or facing potential criminal actions, even a fine is enough for most to avoid complicity.

    Wednesday, March 27 Report this

  • johngreen

    Could this increase be due to trap, neuter, and release program instituted by the county and cities? Lots of reports of stray cats on Next Door. This policy could be contributing to more work for public officials, killing of birds and wildlife, and cats dying inhumanely.

    Wednesday, March 27 Report this