Improvements made but pet licensing remains inefficient

Read the executive summary on this page and download the pdf for the full report. 

What We Found

Multnomah County Animal Services (Animal Services) made considerable progress by implementing 11 out of 16 of our recommendations from our 2016 Animal Services Finances audit. We found that the pet licensing process remains inefficient. Currently, seven people spend a large portion of their time manually entering licensing data. Improving pet licensing efficiency largely depends on the licensing database’s ability to accept data electronically instead of manually entering it. 

In 2007, the county required veterinarians to submit all rabies vaccination information for dogs and cats to Animal Services. Animal Services uses this information to identify unlicensed pets. Animal Services did not always timely enter this information into their licensing system due to staff reassignments, resulting in lost revenues. We also found in the 2016 audit that Animal Services did not enter months of rabies information from veterinarians. 

In this follow-up audit, we discovered that internet pet licensing revenue decreased by 19% in FY2019 despite an increase in pet licensing fees authorized by the Board of County Commissioners. Internet pet license sales account for roughly 57% of total license sales. The revenue decrease occurred because Animal Services began enforcing the state law to present proof of rabies vaccination when purchasing a pet license. Showing this proof was inconvenient for pet owners who purchased their dog or cat license online. The county supports a bill to change the state law decoupling the proof of rabies vaccination from the license. We assume this law will pass. 

Animal Services should develop procedures to manage pet licenses as well as ensure the accuracy of its licensing database. We also found that Animal Services should strengthen some licensing internal controls, and that they need to be able to show how they spent special purpose donations. Animal Services made some of these improvements during the audit. 

Why We Did This Audit

The objective of this follow-up audit was to determine whether Animal Services implemented 2016 audit recommendations. Much of this report focuses on pet licensing because Animal Services did not suitably implement our recommendation to use a computer system capable of properly managing pet licenses. 

What We Recommend

Animal Services should fully investigate other ways (listed in this report) to process pet licenses and improve licensing efficiency. Animal Services should also maintain sufficient staffing to promptly enter all veterinarian data. Animal Services should develop comprehensive pet licensing procedures and should verify the accuracy of data in the pet licensing database in an ongoing, systematic manner.