THE District of North Vancouver is conducting a door-to-door campaign to tally the number of households with dogs and put a leash on unlicensed canines.
According to the district, almost 50 percent of households have dogs but less than half actually license their pets.
"We've done it off and on a number of times through the years. We want to get a handle on how many dogs are out there, and that helps us formulate dog in park (policies) and off-leash areas as well, helps us plan," said Carol Walker, chief bylaw officer with the district.
"But also the purpose of licensing your dog is to make sure that the shelter is being able to operate. All the fees from dog licences go towards our animal shelter."
The district has hired a canvasser specifically for the survey, at a cost of approximately $7,000. Walker said the canvasser started last week, has visited 500 homes already and is not going to homes that currently have dog licences.
"The canvasser will visit all other homes on the street, including those that have not yet renewed their dog licence for 2013," she said. "There may also be obvious signs that a dog lives there and we ask that the owners obtain a licence for their pet within a week."
The district will follow up by checking their records again, re-visiting the home or calling, said Walker. If residents are not home, the canvasser will leave a door hanger with information and follow up until each dog is licensed.
Neighbours have also advised the canvasser where dogs live in the area.
"I think it is very effective. Sometimes people are too busy to do the little things like get your dog licence, so it's just an easy way," she said.
"We offer it at the door and it's a simple little process. If they have the information if their dog has been spayed or neutered that reduces the licence fee as well."
Under bylaw 5981, if you live in the district and own a dog, you must get it licensed.
Licences can range in price from $36.50 for a dog that is spayed or neutered, to $87 for an aggressive dog.
Owners must renew dog licences every year by the end of January.
"We also have a $10 fee reduction for the licences that are bought in January, and after Feb. 1 they go up by $10," said Walker. "It really encourages people to get them in early."
She said the feedback has been good so far and generally there have been no complaints.
"We want people to get their licence and it's an opportunity to educate them about why that's important for them," said Walker. "If the dog ever got lost, a licence is a great way to ensure that your dog gets back home safely to you."
Last year, the district issued approximately 6,600 dog licences and 6,425 have been issued this year to date.
Eighty dogs have been turned in to the shelter so far this year, as lost or impounded by Animal Welfare Officers, and more than half of those were licensed, said Walker.
Owners for the remaining dogs were required to license their dog before it could be released and paid a higher impound fee, $150 as opposed to the $95 for a licensed dog. The owners may also have been fined.
"We really wish to have voluntary compliance, but may issue a fine for non-compliance," she said. "An unlicensed ticket, and of course we're not concentrating on that, but that could be a $100 fine later if people do fail, after our attempts, to get them to license voluntarily."
Licences can be purchased or renewed at the district hall, Animal Welfare Shelter or online through the district's website. The canvasser is also supplying a new map of trails and parks, including information on dog etiquette, from the parks department.
"I think our dogs are so lucky here on the North Shore," said Walker. "They have great families to care for them and if they ever do get lost, we've got a shelter that would welcome them and help them to come home."
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