Wherever you happen to live in the CSRA, there may be rules that your local government puts into place related to a variety of things, including the types of pets you can have, perhaps how many and whether or not they need to be licensed or registered.

Most counties in our community have an animal control department that you can contact for information and if you live within a city limits, you can speak to them too, about animals before you move there. The rules are typically designed to protect their citizens from impulse choices people might make like preventing someone from having a horse in their backyard on a small city lot, raising chickens in your condo development parking lot, or even out in rural areas to keep someone from setting up their own zoo full of lions, tigers, and bears, oh my!

The rules also are in place to help local governments get some idea how many animals are in their jurisdiction, so they can better plan for the size of the animal department they employ, as well as the size of a stray animal holding area they need when stray dogs and cats are found in their community.

If you live within the city limits of Aiken, for example, you are required to register your dogs and cats with the City of Aiken’s Animal Control department. The registration is a lifetime registration, so you don’t have to worry about renewing it every year.

Registration is fairly easy. You can contact the department at 642-7620 or visit them at 251 Laurens St. N.W. in downtown Aiken for more information. You can also stop by and visit us at the SPCA Albrecht Center at 199 Willow Run Road in Aiken or give us a call at 648-6863.

Registration costs vary on a variety of factors, such as whether or not your pet is spayed or neutered, microchipped and up to date on rabies shots. If you said yes on all three of those items, then the lifetime registration is free.

If you dog or cat isn’t already spayed or neutered, the City of Aiken has a voucher program for its citizens that you may qualify for. In many cases, for only $15 you can have your dog or cat altered, microchipped and given a rabies shot in the SPCA’s new regional spay and neuter clinic and the registration will then be included for the life of your pet.

This program is a win for the City of Aiken in a variety of ways. It helps register more pets, so the city has a better handle on the number of animals living within the city limits. It also gets more pets microchipped, which is a great way to reunite a lost pet with its owner as any shelter, animal control officer or veterinarian’s office can check a found pet for a chip, which will quickly help reunite the pet with the owner looking for them.

More female dogs spayed means fewer going into heat, drawing attention from unaltered male dogs in the neighborhood. When we have more male dogs being neutered, it means they are less likely to wander out of their yards, which means fewer strays and fewer incidents of dogs getting injured when they leave your property.

The other great thing about when these pets get altered is, of course, they won’t add to the pet overpopulation problem most communities in the south experience. Fewer unplanned litters of puppies and kittens turned into local shelters is a good thing for shelters and governments alike. If you don’t live within the city limits of Aiken, you may not need to register your pet, but if you want your dog or cat altered, your community may have a low cost voucher program of their own. If you live in the city limits of North Augusta, call 441-4298 for information about their programs. If you live anywhere else in Aiken County, call 642-1537 to learn about their voucher program.

Gary Willoughby is the president and CEO for the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare