Majority of Dogs in Reykjavík Unregistered

iceland dogs

Animal Services of Reykjavík report of the estimated 10,000 dogs in the city, only 2,500 owners pay the legal registration fee.

In a statement to RÚV, Þorkell Hreiðarsson, director of Animal Services, said: “We lowered the fee by about half two years ago, when Animal Services of Reykjavík City was founded.” Because animal services in Reykjavík are entirely funded by animal registration fees, Þorkell claims the unwillingness to pay is particularly problematic.

In total, Animal Services is funded with some 30 million ISK [$214,000; €200,000]. Services provided include running a kennel for stray dogs and responding to residential noise complaints.

“Ideally, the more people who pay the fees, the more these same fees will decrease,” Þorkell continued.

Registration fees for dogs in Iceland total ISK 15,700 [$112; €105] at the time of writing. Þorkell also believes that many dog owners in Reykjavík may avoid paying their registration fee because the process was once complicated and involved unnecessary paperwork. Now, according to Þorkell, dogs can be registered at the online portal, where Icelandic residents already take care of many bureaucratic tasks. Hopefully, the new convenience will encourage more and more dog owners to pay into the system.

Dog owners in Reykjavík who attend behaviour classes with their animal are also eligible to receive a discount on their registration.

There are, of course, those who simply don’t want to pay. Regarding this unwillingness, Þorkell points out the unfairness of the situation. Because animal services in the city are intended for the entire community, those who pay are, in effect, subsidising the unwilling.

Akureyri Revokes Nighttime Ban on Free-Roaming Cats

This cat is not Gunnlaugur

A controversial law, which would have banned cat owners from allowing their feline friends from freely roaming the town of Akureyri at night has been revoked, RÚV reports. The ban, which would have gone into effect on January 1, 2025, was initially proposed as a total ban on free-roaming cats, but was later ammended so it would only be in effect at night.

The majority of the Akureyri town council has now voted to drop the ban all together. The decision will be discussed in more detail at a council meeting later in the week. “The rules aren’t changing at all,” said town council president Heimir Örn Árnason during a radio interview on Friday. “The matter’s been shelved for now.”

Cat ban protest party ran for town council last year

The planned ban had been extremely controversial since its initial proposal in 2021, with some opponents saying that the town of Akureyri had done nothing to enforce existing laws regarding outdoor cats or suggesting that it would be better to ban outdoor cats during bird nesting season. People also took issue with the law having no grandfather clause that would have allowed current pet cats to live out the rest of their days as free-roaming cats on the prowl. And cats that couldn’t adjust to being indoors full-time risked being abandoned by their owners, argued volunteers at Akureyri’s Kisukot cat shelter.

The ban was so controversial that a whole new political party, Kattaframboðið, informally known as ‘The Cat Party’ in English, was formed around the issue. Kattaframboðið ran for Akureyri town council in 2022 with the express purpose of reversing the cat ban. The party did not win any seats, but it did secure 373 votes, or 4.1% of all votes that were cast in the election.

Bacterial Infection Brucella Canis Suspected in Dogs in Iceland

The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) has reason to suspect that a bacterial disease called Brucella canis has been found in dogs in Iceland. RÚV reports that Bruncella canis can—in very rare instances—be transmitted from dogs to humans, with young children, pregnant, and immunocompromised people at the greatest risk of serious infection. This is the first time that Brucella canis has been detected in Iceland.

MAST veterinarian Vigdís Tryggvadóttir was quick to clarify that as yet, it is not certain that Bruncella canis actually is in Iceland, although there is a very high likeliness of this. “We have a strong suspicion, but it’s still only a suspicion,” she said. “We’ve sent samples abroad for confirmation, and hopefully, it won’t be [Brucella canis]. But [results] could take up to two weeks.”

In the meantime, MAST has enacted some protocols to curb the spread of infection. Relevant parties have been told to quarantine animals suspected of being infected with Brucella canis and a mating ban has been instated where appropriate. The agency is also collecting samples and information to trace possible spread and is urging dog breeders to observe the strictest level of infection prevention while assisting with whelping. Breeders are also encouraged to contact their veterinarian if a dog miscarries late in gestation or gives birth to stillborn puppies or puppies that die shortly after birth.

Dog breeders and vets at highest risk of exposure, minimal risk for others

Brucella canis is a zoonotic bacterial disease, which means it can be passed from animals to people. In a recent announcement, MAST said its most prominent symptoms in female dogs are miscarriages late in gestation, as well as puppies that are stillborn or die soon after birth; for male dogs, swollen testicles. The most common mode of transmission between dogs is mating.

It is rare for people to become infected with Brucella canis, but the biggest risk of infection is via fluids and tissue when helping an infected dog give birth. This puts dog breeders and veterinarians at the highest risk of infection, says Vigdís, while nearly everyone else has almost no risk of exposure.

In the very unlikely case of infection, symptoms of Brucella canis within people include fever, chills, malaise, loss of appetite, bone and/or muscle pain, and swollen lymph nodes. Symptoms may appear within several days or as much as a month after infection. The disease is not generally transmittable between people.

First time suspected in Iceland

This is the first time that Brucella canis has been suspected of being in Iceland, but it is a very common disease in nearby nations. “Brucella canis is endemic in many countries in Europe and also Asia and further afield,” said Vigdís. “It’s never been diagnosed here and it’s rare in some other European countries. We’ve never had it here and want, of course, to keep it outside our borders.”

Vigdís concluded by saying that even if a case of Brucella canis is confirmed in Iceland, that doesn’t mean an epidemic is breaking out.

Reykjavík Zoo to Import Tarantulas

tarantula Reykjavík zoo

Four tarantulas from Germany may soon be on their way to Iceland, to be exhibited at Reykjavík Family Park and Zoo. “In addition to exhibitions and education, the spiders may be used to treat arachnophobia,” a notice from the Environment Agency states. The notice details two permits recently granted by the agency: one for the four tarantulas, and one for four southern white-faced owls, to be imported from the United Kingdom, for display and educational purposes at a separate location.

Any import of exotic animals is subject to a permit from the Environment Agency, which considers, among other factors, whether the animals in question could survive in the wild in Iceland if they were to escape and whether they would pose a threat to local biodiversity. According to the agency’s assessment, neither the tarantulas nor the owls are likely to survive in the wild in Iceland. The tarantulas require high temperatures and humidity in addition to water and food. The owls, native to the southern part of Africa, are unlikely to survive due to unfavourable weather and poor food supply.

Animals still subject to import licence

Although the Environment Agency has given the go-ahead for importing the animals, their trip is still subject to an import licence in accordance with the legislation governing the import of animals.

City councillor criticises zoo policy

The Reykjavík Family Park and Zoo houses mostly domesticated animals native to Iceland, such as sheep, cows, and horses. Wild animals, such as seals, are however also among its exhibits. The park has recently received three permits to import exotic animals: giant ants, pythons, and the tarantulas that are the subject of this article.

City councillor Hildur Björnsdóttir of the Independence Party has criticised these imports, saying the zoo should only house domestic animals, to which it can offer humane conditions. Hildur put forth a motion in December to change the zoo’s policy to that effect. She has also questioned whether the municipality should be responsible for running the zoo, suggesting it may be best to contract out its operation to a private party.