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District of Dogs: Number of pet licenses surges in D.C.

Kelly and Josh Phillips and their dog, Otto, are seen in their 700-square-foot apartment in Washington. (Astrid Riecken/For The Washington Post)
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The number of pricey dog-offered amenities in the District is often used to signify just how much wealth there is in D.C. There’s the apartment building with a rooftop dog park, the apartment complex that has a communal bull dog and the restaurant that has an $8 steak on the menu for dog diners.

But is it just that people are now willing to spend more on their pets, or are there actually more pets in D.C.?

According to District, Measured, a blog from city’s Office of the Chief Financial Office, there seem to be a whole lot more four-legged animals in D.C. these days.

The blog looked at the number of annual pet licenses issued in D.C. in fiscal years 2013 and 2014 and found that the number more than doubled, from 1,809 to 3,697, respectively.

According to the D.C. Department of Health, dog owners must obtain a license each year for their pet showing that it has been vaccinated against rabies and distemper. The fee costs $15 for a dog that has a note from a veterinarian showing the canine has been spayed, neutered or is incapable of enduring the procedure. The license is $50 for all other dogs and free for service dogs.

Cats do not need these licenses, though pigeon coops and special exotic animals do.

District, Measured shows that the revenue from these licenses increased from $75,005 in 2013 to $116,196 in 2014 — a steep increase, although less than 50 percent. Different licenses cost different amounts and, licenses for service animals, for instance, don’t cost anything.

The data, which are collected by the Washington Humane Society and District Department of Health, does not account for pet owners who do not comply with the licensing requirements. It’s not clear how many pet owners don’t comply.

“We will expand on our analysis as more data becomes available in Petpoint and see if the District’s changing demographics is contributing to this trend,” the CFO’s blog says.