Could your veterinarian be a snitch?

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dog faceKENT — Is your best friend a fugitive? Chances are that your pets don’t have a license, which is required by law.

King County is considering legislation to require your veterinarian to help them identify pet owners whose animals breaking the law by not being registered.

To be sure, this is all about revenue and the Regional Animal Services of King County (RASKC) says it needs the money for vital services like shelters, adoption programs and animal control officers. The hitch? Veterinarians don’t want to rat on their patients.

Dr. Gene Mueller runs the RASKC shelter in Kent. It takes in and adopts out animals from King County and Mueller said paying your pet’s license fee keeps the doors open.

“We have to get the revenue here to be supportable for the system,” he said.

Mueller estimates around 1 in 5 pets have a license and the goal is to double that.

The proposal would require vets to share rabies vaccination records so they could cross check them with registration, but some veterinarians call that unethical.

“Our clients trust us to keep their information confidential,” Dr. Judy Hung, who runs a vet office in Kirkland said. “The medical records are the property of the vet hospital that creates it, so we’d have to turn in something that we had intended to be personal and confidential.”

“The state of Illinois, the state of Indiana, New Hampshire, many locations within the state of California, and our friends to the south in Multnomah in Oregon, it’s recognized as an efficient way to contact pet owners about the need to license,” Mueller said.

The idea could cost some veterinary practices customers if people decide not to vaccinate or go somewhere else.

“If they are on the border of another county, they may choose to go to a different county for their wellness care,” Hung said.

While the staff at RASKC hopes the county finds a way to keep their funding, the Washington State Veterinary Association does not support the proposed legislation and hopes county commissioners reject the proposal.


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