Today a lady from Animal Services was checking tags for a while. She walked from Raymore Park all the way along the path to Lions Park, checking tags along the way and extracting addresses from those unable to produce said tag.
According to the City Auditor, only about 30% of Toronto’s dogs are licensed. Actually, from what I have seen, the auditor’s estimate is quite high. Others put it closer to 10%. This is the first evidence I have seen of Animal Services in a long time. A few years ago they used to have quite a strong presence and an A.S. employee used to watch dog owners through binoculars, checking for by-law infringements. This was around the time that A.S. hired students to go knocking on doors and peering in windows, looking for evidence of dogs and cats. There was a bit of a public outcry against such draconian measures and Mayor Rob Ford mused that license fees should perhaps be abolished since they bring in very little money.
Apparently abolition must have been taken off the table – in addition to the ‘stick’ of fines for unlicensed dogs, A.S. is looking at the ‘carrot’ of discounts for doggy products and services if dog owners can prove their pet is licensed.
If they really want to enforce the tags, A.S. should enlist the help of vets throughout the city and allow them to issue tags – the vets would get a piece of the action and could offer a discount on some services. They could perhaps pay for or subsidize a pup’s tag on its first check-up. Once a dog is in the system, it’s likely to stay and the renewal fees would roll in for years.
Meanwhile, in the park, birds are frantically mating and nesting and taking advantage of the mild temperatures before the mini cold-snap that is expected this week.