DENVER -- If you own a cat or a dog in Denver, you are legally required to have it licensed with the city.
However, the city estimates only a small percentage of pet owners actually have the required license.
"Right now, we're at 18% in Denver for licensing cats and dogs," said Tracy Koss, the customer care manager for the Denver Animal Shelter.
The licenses cost $15 a year and can be purchased in person or online.
Koss says they allow the city to track dog and cat populations, which helps determine where to build new dog parks and where to station animal control officers.
Currently, city staff estimates there are roughly 158,000 dogs in Denver.
"The better grasp the city has on our dog and cat population, helps with creating proper veterinary services on our community or the proper amount of dog parks in our community."
Koss says it also allows staff at the shelter to reunite lost dogs quickly without the need of a microchip.
"The thing with micro-chipping is that some people don't keep their information updated when as they move," she said. "We have a process we have to go through a different party to learn your information to contact you, so a license will register you directly with us."
Pending the removal of Denver's pit bull ban, pit bull owners will also be required to have a special license with the city.
Applicants would provide the city with their address, two emergency contacts, a description of the pit bull, an annual fee, and proof the dog was microchipped and has its rabies vaccination.
Each owner could have a maximum of two pit bulls per household. Every dog must be spayed or neutered.
Additionally, the owner must notify Denver Animal Protection (DAP) within eight hours if the dog escapes or bites. The owner must also contact DAP if the dog dies or if the owner moves.
If a registered pit bull has no violations within 36 months, the breed-restricted license could be replaced with a regular dog license that all other dog owners in the city are required to have.