Sarah Green was dumbfounded when a city animal control officer recently knocked on her door in the Beach, wireless credit card reader in hand, urging her to renew a $25 dog licence. The city had called the month before to remind her to renew the licence. She promised to do it online but then forgot. “I get the call, and then somebody is at the door, with the van out there with the lights on it and everything. It seemed like a whole lot of effort for 25 bucks,” Green said.
In January, Jim Hart, executive director of Toronto’s licensing division, told reporters the city was considering scrapping cat and dog licences altogether, or moving to lifetime tags, because it cost $2 million to collect $2.4 million in annual revenues. He noted the city had cancelled a program that sent summer students prowling through neighbourhoods looking for signs of pet ownership and knocking on potential owners’ doors. But he didn’t mention that the city has eight full-time animal control officers who, as part of their duties, regularly visit the homes of owners with expired licences, urging them to cough up annual fees ranging from $7.50 to $60. Animal control and care officers earn between $62,150 and $70,054 a year.
Queries to Hart about the house calls were answered in writing by Elizabeth Glibbery, head of animal control, who said the officers are focusing this spring on licence renewals. She said that, after the city mails and calls owners, “the delinquent licence is moved to enforcement where the officers follow up with various means, including attending a property, especially if they are investigating (animal) complaints in the vicinity.”
Councillor Cesar Palacio, chair of the licensing and standards committee, was surprised to learn the city is still sending employees to pet owners’ doors. “These door-to-door sales, it’s not part of the city’s mandate,” Palacio said after speaking with Hart. “My humble opinion is, what is happening is a waste of money, it’s unacceptable.”
But he won’t push for immediate change, Palacio said, because the “failed” revenue recovery effort will be examined as part of the city’s sweeping service review, and “I have no doubt this will end.” Read more at www.thestar.com