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The man who called himself a "Pet License Marketer" demanded to know why a listener's service dog wasn't licensed. His ID didn't have his photo and his business card had no name on it.

Animal Control getting out of hand, according to listener

In unincorporated King County, where they can barely afford law enforcement and have stopped sanding roads during snow storms, they can afford to send "Pet License Marketers" door-to-door on weekends.

A Dori Monson Show listener that asked to remain anonymous, said one of these officials came to her door on Sunday demanding to know if there was a dog in the house - and why it wasn't licensed.

She lives in a semi-rural area of unincorporated southeast King County on one acre. Her neighborhood has had a rash of unsolved break-ins and arsons, so she was nervous when a strange man approached her house.

"We've been told in no uncertain terms by the sheriff that we do not have a police presence here due to budget cuts."

When she came to the door the man told her he was part of King County Animal Control and asked if there were any unlicensed animals in the house.

When the listener said that was none of his business, the Pet License Marketer threatened to "door tag" her house for authorities before he left.

The listener admitted to us that she let her dog's license lapse because the dog is 15-years-old and doesn't leave the house except in her car. She said she even called Animal Control last year to let them know she was going to let the license lapse because she didn't think her dog would live much longer.

Eventually, she renewed her license online, but she was still angry.

"When you're told that you have to wait an hour for a police officer to get to your house in an emergency, and yet can send somebody out on a Sunday to be a pet Gestapo at your door? It's a little much."

The visit made her nervous given the crime spree in her neighborhood; she said the man's name tag was wet and illegible. He had to go back to his car for a business card, which didn't have his name on it.

"I feel that it is a type of search that is done by the authorities that isn't legal," said the listener. "I feel very uncomfortable when strangers come to my home and try to get in my space."

Dori has said before that pet licensing is useless, and that all it does is take more money out of your pockets, since pets get micro-chipped.

"We get nothing in return from pet licensing," said Dori.

But Sandy Jones, from Regional Animal Services of King County, disagrees.

"We find lots of animals every single year being called to us that the person never ever thought in a million years that their pet would get out," said Sandy in an interview with Dori.

She says that it's mainly cats at the shelter. In her experience, many times the license, not a microchip, is the only information that identifies an animal.

Many people complain about King County Animal Control, but the reason they go door-to-door on Sundays is to make it convenient for working families. And though one of Dori's neighbors reported an Animal Control representative peering through windows and over fences, Sandy says her staff doesn't do that.

"They're trained to observe and look, so if there's that cat peeking out that window upstairs, or we hear that dog in the backyard, we note that kind of information."

Sandy also rejected Dori's assertion that Animal Control representatives are asking for papers - they are educating families.

"We're educating you on the fact of the license and the requirement of it," said Sandy. "We're the happy part, we're the friendly part."

Jillian Raftery, KIRO Radio Editor
Jillian Raftery is an afternoon editor at KIRO Radio. She loves the neighborly vibe of the Pacific Northwest and spends as much time as possible outdoors.
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