Own a dog? Woolwich wants you to keep a tighter leash on it, while it does the same to you.
A new animal control bylaw approved this week puts more emphasis on collecting fees for dog tags, requires proof of rabies vaccination and boosts costs for kennel operators.
This week also saw contractors hired by the township out knocking on doors in search of unlicensed dogs in the interest of selling tags.
The new bylaw passed by councillors Tuesday night consolidates four previous bylaws into one document. Kennel owners are the hardest hit, with higher fees and more paperwork. Kennels of four to 10 dogs will now pay a $150 licensing fee, up from $100. Those with 11 to 25 dogs will pay $175 instead of $125. For those with 26 or more dogs, the fee jumps to $200 from $150, plus a new charge of $20 per dog to a maximum of 50 dogs, the limit for kennels in the township.
For Terri Hanlon-Cushing, a registered breeder of Chihuahuas in Maryhill, the changes add another layer of paperwork while infringing on the privacy rights of her customers, who must now provide identification and more personal details.
“What is wrong with the current bylaw?” she asked in critiquing the changes approved by councillors at the May 21 meeting. “Some of these things are getting ridiculous.”
In response, clerk Christine Broughton said the new requirements serve to protect the dogs and the kennels by providing a way to trace what happens to them after the sale.
While approving the new bylaw, Coun. Mark Bauman pointed out that “unquantifiable elements” such as controls on the barking of a dog – “at what point does it become likely to disturb?” – may be too arbitrary to enforce. Likewise, many people let their dogs run off the leash while in parks or on trails; that’s contrary to the rules, but very difficult to stay on top of.
Lacking the manpower to monitor such infractions, said Broughton, the township will work on educating the public about why people should keep their dogs on a leash.
The public will also be mined for more information in order to expand the township’s database of dog owners as Woolwich looks to increase the number of tags it sells. The door-to-door sales that started last year resumed this week in Elmira. The tags cost $25 for spayed or neutered dogs, $35 otherwise. They’re supposed to be purchased by Apr. 15 of each year or within 21 days of acquiring the animal. Typically, owners are charged an extra $15 late fee after Apr. 15, but the regular rates will apply during the sales blitz. Under the new bylaw, the date for buying tags will move forward to March 1 each year.
In going door-to-door, the township also hopes to build a database of dog owners, allowing them to send out annual reminders to renew the tags.