Sunday, August 8, 2010

Pets May Be Required To Get Microchips

City councillor Howard Moscoe says city officials are talking about abandoning the pet licensing system and ushering in mandatory microchips.
He says the idea, still in its infancy, is part of a plan to revamp the city’s animal services programs, which came under fire last year for euthanizing more than 25,000 animals that had been admitted to city shelters over a five-year period.
Currently, all dogs and cats must be licensed in the City of Toronto, but a 2007 survey found that most are not.
Mr. Moscoe, chairman of the Licensing and Standards committee, says instituting a microchip system would help reunite strays with owners “and avoid euthanizing animals.”
“It eliminates a huge layer of bureaucracy,” said Mr. Moscoe. “You would never have a lost cat.”
According to figures released by the Toronto Humane Society last year, Toronto Animal Services had euthanized about half the animals living in city shelters from 2002 to 2007.
Carl Bandow, a supervisor for animal services, said 3,872 cats were euthanized last year out of 8,754 that came into city shelters, and 637 dogs out of 3,004. He said about half of the dogs were euthanized at the request of the owners.
Mr. Bandow said the city’s licensing system has, anecdotally, been “very successful” in reuniting animals with owners. He said a microchip, which must be embedded in the animal by a vet, would eliminate situations where a pet loses a tag, or leaves home without it.
“It is more of a permanent identification method,” he said. “Many municipalities may use an amalgam of both systems.”
Mr. Moscoe said the microchip initiative was discussed at a recent animal services committee meeting, and would be considered among other possible changes.
One proposal put forward by a Toronto resident calls on the city to ban the sale of dogs and cats in retail shops.
In a letter to Councillor Moscoe, Dean Maher argues that a ban could “reduce the number of unwanted pets in Toronto and help promote the humane treatment of dogs and/or cats.”
“You can’t sell chickens in stores, so why can you sell dogs?” he asked in a telephone interview. Mr. Maher, who is a candidate in Ward 20 (Trinity Spadina), described it as a small but significant step in animal rights. He hoped it would put a dent in the puppy mill business.
Mr. Moscoe said Mr. Maher’s request, which will be discussed at next week’s Licensing and Standards Committee meeting, will likely be referred to staff for a report. “I doubt if they will ever achieve a ban on the sale of animals, but there do needs to be controls of the sale of animals,” he said. “But banning the sale may not be the best way and we’re looking for other ways.”
National Post

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