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Home > Pet News and Articles > The Scoop on Poop and Scoop

The Scoop on Poop and Scoop
Article By: Glenn Redmond

A recent article in the Shoreline caught my attention: "Feces raise mayors hackles." It went on to explain how fed up the Mayor of Paradise is over the issue of dog waste on public fields and trails. "I got so mad yesterday evening that I would take every dog in Paradise to Mount Pearl to be euthanized!" Mayor Wiseman said. "It just burns me so much that idiots are allowed to own dumb animals."

Wiseman asked council about the possibility of employing another municipal enforcement officer to step up patrols in some areas saying, "It's unbelievable that we have to spend tax payer's dollars to go out to try to keep the dogs off the soccer fields where kids play".

Now, do not get me wrong. I, more than anybody, am disgusted with the amount of feces left behind by irresponsible pet owners and certainly do not enjoy the occasional deposits on my shoes. However, reactive tirades from our public officials concerning animal issues are becoming increasingly common and do nothing to create solutions.

Headlines

It seems every year, its one issue or another making headlines. It stays hot for a while and then fades by memory until another dog bites somebody, cats tear up too much garbage, or somebody steps in pet feces. All along the problems stay, moving further away from permanent solutions as anger and hostility grow.

In April, Bill Bruce, the Chief Bylaw Enforcement Officer for the City of Calgary, came to St. John's to highlight the excellent animal model Calgary has. The model was designed and implemented by Bruce and his team and has been recognized as leading North America in innovation and success of animal control programs and has become a model in numerous jurisdictions.

The bulk of the model is outlined in the Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw, which lists all of the regulations a pet owner must meet to comply with the city of Calgary. The program is driven by mandatory licensing for both dogs and cats, costing between $10 and $50 annually. The other key components are education and enforcement.

Education

In one of the conversations I had with Bruce, he said that enforcement without education is a one-way street. Calgary makes it mandatory that all pet owners educate themselves about their rights and responsibilities as owners. The education the city provides helps ensure that companion animals lead long, healthy lives and are respected and welcomed members of our community.

Now, I have preached these same sentiments in various seminars and public speaking venues, often to be met with stuff like, "education doesn't work," or "you're preaching to the converted." Fair enough, but for those who wish to ignore the education process, the enforcement component kicks in, and they are not messing around in Calgary. The fine for having an unlicenced animal or not stopping to poop and scoop is $250.00. If you choose not to pay, then good luck renewing your driver's licence or your mortgage, as unpaid fines could be assigned to your land taxes.

Bylaw officers in Calgary are highly trained and have the same powers of arrest, as do police officers, ensuring the effectiveness of the enforcement component of the system.

The money collected from licensing and fines goes directly into the animal control budget, not into general revenues.

Self-sustaining

Now, here is the part that I want every public official and taxpayer to understand. This is a self-sustaining system with not one red penny of taxpayer's money being spent on animal control in the City of Calgary.

The system is so successful that last year animal control donated $250,000 to the Calgary Humane Services out of a surplus fund.

They are actually making money - not bad for a city that was experiencing the same problems we have here not too long ago.

Today, in Calgary, all aspects of the animal world including rescue groups, the SPCA, Humane Services, Trainers, Veterinarians and public officials work together to ensure the welfare of the animals and the safety and happiness of the community.

We do not have to re-invent the wheel in this province. Calgary has the best model in North America and is more than happy to share it and to help in any way they can. If we want permanent solutions to animal issues in Newfoundland, we need more action and less talk, especially uneducated rants born out of frustration and anger.

I am sure their will be another rant soon, so don't worry if you missed this one. Just stay tuned for the next.

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