Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Who Benefits From Pet Licensing In Toronto?

Recently in a Toronto park I ran into a by-law officer who approached me to ensure that the four dogs I was walking indeed had their municipal licenses. While my pooches all passed with flying colours, the officer reiterated the point that each pet without a license subjects the owner to a fine of $240.00. I inquired as to why such a system is so important, and the officer replied that without such a tag, it is extremely difficult to reunite lost pets with their owners.  Further information and statistics (including the fact the 90% of Toronto pet owners do not license their pets) can be found in an article published by Toronto Life.

In reading the article it becomes very clear that such a licensing system does little more than increase government bureaucracy. I'm all for having mandatory tags on pets in case they go on a neighbourhood vacation, and I'm also in favour of paying government employees to enforce such a policy. Where I begin to question such a policy comes from the fact that the government is basically saying that they are the only ones who can efficiently issue such identification tags. Why must I pay the city upwards of $70.00 for an identification tag when I can purchase a tag (one which clearly displays a pet's name and contact number) for roughly $10.00 at my neighbourhood pet store? Further, why must I renew such a license each and every year? If you do the basic math, and have a sterilized pooch that lives to 15 years, you will have paid the city $375.00. Who is the city to say that this is the safest way of protecting our pets?

In addition, the enforcement of the Toronto licensing system is all over the place. Do you know who receives notices that it is time to renew their pet's license? Those individuals who have been suckered into paying the fees in the first place, since they are the only ones on file (as Bart Simpson would say, "The ironing is delicious!"). This means that if you have never taken the time or effort to obtain a city license, the odds of you having to ever pay a fine are far less than someone who has done so. So tell me, are you more likely to go ahead & purchase a license now?

Look, each and every pet owner (especially cats owners) should take the time to purchase a collar and identification tag in case the pet ever goes missing. It's not hard to do, and it's not all that expensive ($10.00 for both at a local store), and you will be ever so thankful you did so if heaven forbid you ever lose your beloved pet. The only question I'm raising is, "Why does the municipal government feel they should have a monopoly on the pet tag industry, when their system is no better and barely breaks even in the first place?"

What are your thoughts? Am I being to critical of the current system, or is the Toronto animal licensing system simply a tax grab, and one that is impossible to enforce?