In communities across the U.S. and Canada, pet licenses provide a valuable system for keeping tabs on our four-legged friends. When pet licenses are managed effectively, they not only help reunite lost pets with their humans—they also help municipalities track health and safety concerns. However, many pet license systems rely on cumbersome forms and processes that make data hard to share.

With the help of Cityworks and ArcGIS, the City of Racine developed a solution that not only tracks animal cases internally but also shares information with other departments.

Racine has been a Cityworks user since 2009, when the Public Works Department first implemented Cityworks AMS. In 2011, the Racine Building Department adopted Cityworks PLL. Since then, many processes that were tracked in either an Excel sheet or an Access database have been migrated to Cityworks. Cityworks is now used in almost every department, including the Health Department.

The Racine Health Department manages permits and licenses for bees, chickens, ferrets, and potbelly pigs—but the most common licenses issued are for cats and dogs. Each dog or cat case includes:

  • Tag numbers
  • Previous year tag numbers
  • Animal name
  • Gender
  • Primary and secondary breed
  • Color
  • Neuter/spay status
  • Rabies serial number
  • Vaccination/expiration date

Each licensed animal has its own PLL case. All fees associated with the animal are recorded within the case, and categories such as ISSUED, CLOSED, DECEASED, MOVED, and EXPIRED help track the status of the license.

Each case is also tied to the tax parcel map layer by owner name and address. Because the pet cases are geocoded, staff across several departments can easily visualize and share valuable information.

For example, when the city receives a report of an animal bite or attack, they create a dangerous animal case. If the animal in question already has a pet license on file, the dangerous animal case is linked to the license. If not, the owner is required to register the animal so the issue can be monitored. This information helps protect code enforcement staff who may be walking around properties with a known dangerous animal. Employees can simply reference the map to stay informed, aware, and safe.  

The Police Department, which handles animal protection and control, also uses the geodata. They can run a report to search for a street name, owner name, or pet tag number to identify animals and contact owners.

Several aspects of Cityworks PLL have helped improve customer service. For example, a “renew” task has been configured so the city can keep track of license renewal dates, and the city runs an automated email campaign through MailChimp to help notify owners about upcoming renewals. The city also developed an expired case report that gets printed and mailed to each owner notifying them of expired animal tags. Although it may seem costly to print upwards of 1,000 expired notices each year, the city has found this process highly effective for encouraging license renewals.

The city also configured an inbox specifically for expired cases. Now, when pet owners stop by the office to renew expired licenses, they no longer have to wait for staff to track down the records. The inbox helps staff quickly and easily locate the appropriate case. A Cityworks account was also created for the Racine Humane Society to give adoption customers access to on-site, same-day pet licensing.

With the help of a GIS-centric licensing and code enforcement platform, Racine transformed a complex process into a transparent enterprise system that empowers and protects the community.

By Jacob Pitsch, programmer, City of Racine, Wisconsin


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