‘Tag for a Toonie’ to be touted by town

 

By Karen Fallon

Council agreed to an initiative designed to beef up dog tag sales and provide sustenance to an old canine bylaw at its Nov. 26 meeting.

To date, the dog tag program has not been very successful and has a very low rate of compliance, says Brenda Percy manager, council and legislative services.

In an effort to get more people to purchase tags (license) for their dog, Percy suggested a three-phase approach. Phase one involves a “Tag for a Toonie” which will run from Jan 1, 2013 to Dec. 31.

Councillor Carolyn Davies says the toonie initiative is a good strategy to get residents onboard with purchasing dog tags.

Councilor Bart DiPasquale agreed by saying: “You get more with honey than you do with vinegar and you are giving them a break next year.”

As an additional incentive, those taking advantage of the $2 tag in 2013 by purchasing their tag(s) by April 30, will receive a 10 per cent discount on their dog tag licence in 2014.

According to Percy, the fees in Amherstburg are consistent with those charged in surrounding municipalities, with a discount being provided to dog owners whose animal has been spayed or neutered.

This reduction in price is a common incentive to dog owners in an attempt to control the pet population and support responsible pet ownership.

Phase two will begin in Jan. 1, 2014 and run through to Dec. 31, 2014 when all dog owners will be required to obtain a tag at the regular dog tag rates in accordance with the bylaw.

In 2014 an enforcement strategy will maintain that anyone acquiring tags after April 30 will be subject to late fees and possibly a fine.

In order for the program to be successful, says Percy, it is important that Council be on-board with the late fee as the $10 will be consistently applied and not waived.

“It is important for the strategy to work that council support the $10 late fee and that it is consistently applied,” said Percy. “We will always work with the public.”

In phase three starting Jan 1, 2015 to Dec. 31, 2015 the one-time 10 per cent discount is no longer applicable. By the end of 2015, it is expected that full implementation of the program will have been reached.

Although difficult to estimate the revenue that would be forthcoming, Percy projects an income of between $31,000 to $51,000 once the program reaches full affect.

“Once you have the revenue that is paying for the animal control program any additional revenue could be put into a reserve for something that would benefit a dog owner,” said Percy.

“I think it is a worthwhile initiative, we have to look at ways to get our non-tax revenue up and certainly this is a good initiative that’s not ‘ruff’ on the people,” said councilor John Sutton with a smile.

“If you get a tag for a toonie you are not going to have B J ‘chasing his tail’ trying to get people to comply so let’s ‘throw them a bone’ for a year at two-bucks and I will end my bad puns there,” he continued.

In conjunction with the licensing recommendation Percy introduced an up-dated bylaw to regulate dogs in the Town of Amherstburg.

Such a move to update all bylaws was suggested as part of the town’s organizational review and although revised the new dog bylaw contains a lot of the content of its predecessor.

According to Percy municipalities pass bylaws to regulate dogs for a number of reasons including: promoting a safe community, eliminating dogs from running at large, addressing dangerous dogs and those that are a threat to citizens and funding programs relating to dogs.

“One of the changes to the bylaw would be the number of permitted dogs,” said Percy. “It has been increased in the new bylaw from two dogs to three dogs per residential dwelling unit.”

“Changing the dog numbers was seen as a reflection of today’s society,” said Percy.

Councillor Diane Pouget says although she likes most things in the bylaw she has a “serious concern” going from the allowance of two to three dogs especially in residential areas because barking could become an issue.

“I really think we should stay at two dogs per household instead of going to three,” said Pouget.

Councillor Robert Pillon says he believes that allowing three dogs per residential unit will make it easier to control for the town.

Percy says those who wanted three dogs in the past were able to do so under a kennel license. However, she notes, the town will now have more control over the situation with the new bylaw.

Those who are zoned in an agricultural area would not be subject to a limit on the amount of dogs, which is consistent with town’s zoning bylaw.

Councilor Carolyn Davies says she is pleased with the new bylaw as it will make it a smoother transition for the residents and the town.

 

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