Regulation of the Day 118: Unlicensed Dogs

In Los Angeles, it is illegal to own a dog without a license. The city government employees eight people whose full-time job is to make sure that people are complying. But they aren’t doing a very good job of it; roughly two thirds of Los Angeles’ dog population is unlicensed.

This epidemic of unlicensed dogs is easily the most pressing issue facing America’s second-largest city. Packs of wild, unlicensed dogs roam the streets at night. People are scared to go out after dark. An entire city huddles in fear.

Or not. Maybe unlicensed dogs don’t really matter. Most places do just fine without dog licensing regulations. So why is the city government clamping down on enforcement all of a sudden?

The answer is simple: money. LA is looking at a $400 million budget deficit this year. At $15 per license, the city estimates it will make $3.6 million from full compliance. Hopefully it will spend somewhat less than that getting there.

Los Angeles is hardly the only city having revenue troubles. One wonders what other obscure regulations are being used for money grabs across the country.