Toronto looking at ending failed pet-licensing program

Toronto looking at ending failed pet-licensing program

A Toronto pet licence application: dogs cost $60 (unaltered) or $25 (sterilized); cats cost $50 (unaltered) or $15 (sterilized). Seniors get a 50 per cent discount.

Here’s a new entry in the “good in theory, not in practice” file. Toronto brought in a pet-licensing system to help control the animal population—and yes, the animal population, especially cats, is out of control. The problem is that due to lack of enforcement and really, really low participation from the public (90 per cent of pet owners couldn’t be bothered), the system is basically worse than useless. It offends pet owners, who feel like they’re being asked to license their kids, and it doesn’t bring in any money. So the city is doing the sensible thing and looking at ditching the system.

Or so says the Globe and Mail:

That reluctance on owners’ parts indicates the need for a little more nudging from the city. But enforcement costs money. And this program is not very profitable: It brings in $3 to $4 per licence; at about 100,000 total dog and cat licences citywide, that works out to less than $400,000….

Staff are bringing forward a report on the merits of the licensing program to the city’s licensing and standards committee’s meeting later this month. Alternatives might include lifetime licences rather than annual ones, says [municipal licensing and standards executive director Jim Hart]. But if the city’s primary goal is to ensure that pets gone astray end up back home, rather than in shelters, the focus should perhaps be on ensuring owners tag or microchip their animals themselves, he said.

The issue isn’t that the fees don’t go to a good cause—the licensing fees support Toronto Animal Services and all the work they do—but that it might just be cheaper for the city to fund this kind of thing directly, especially if it’s such an irritant. And given the mayor’s hate-on for the minor irritants coming from city hall, this one sounds like a no-brainer.

• City may scrap pet licences [Globe and Mail]
City eyes scrapping dog, cat licences [Toronto Star]
• Toronto Could Scrap Pet Licenses: Report [CP24]
Toronto Animal Services [Pet Licensing]