News

Dog owners ask why cat owners don’t have to pay

By Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer

SIMCOE  - 

Dog owners in Norfolk pay for the cost of canine control through the yearly sale of tags.

The county also has a budget for cat control -- $50,000 in 2017 -- but that is funded from the general levy.

Some dog owners have grumbled that this isn’t fair. Norfolk council took note of the complaints this week but otherwise took no action.

Chris Baird, Norfolk’s general manager of development and cultural services, says tag sales for cats are problematic because many cat owners don’t like the idea of putting collars on their pets.

Unlike dogs, cats are prolific climbers. If there is a slip, a cat’s collar could catch on something and leave the animal hanging in a potentially lethal predicament.

The perceived discrepancy in animal treatment came Tuesday during a discussion of the county’s 2018 fee schedule. The increases for dog ownership next year are modest.

A kennel licence rises by $1 to $61. The tag for a spayed or neutered dog also rises $1 to $24. Dogs that aren’t spayed or neutered will cost $37 to license. This too is a $1 increase. Discounts are available if purchased before February 1.

Baird told council that about 25 per cent of dogs in Norfolk are licensed in any given year. Fees generated at this level are sufficient to pay for canine control services.

The license rate was higher when service clubs conducted door-to-door tag sales on behalf of the county.

Clubs doing so would keep a share of the revenue they collected. However, Baird said the practice ended when expenses from slips and falls and liability arising from dog bites and the like negated the benefits.

Tags today are available at pet shops in Norfolk County, at county offices that deliver services to the public, and county libraries.

“It’s not ideal,” Baird said. “But it does fund the program. I wish there was something we could do to address the problem.”

As a pilot program, Norfolk council this year allocated $50,000 to several animal welfare groups for the purposes of collecting feral cats, spaying or neutering them, and returning them to managed colonies if they can’t be placed in permanent homes.

The county did not do this as a pet-management program. Rather, the county committed the money in an effort to get Norfolk’s feral cat population under control.

The program will be reviewed in 2018.

MSonnenberg@postmedia.com