Friday, February 5, 2016

Heads up to local dog rescues - you have to licence your rescue dogs

So it has come to light that because of the recently passed A700 in the Halifax Regional Municipality that dogs coming into foster who are going to be in foster for longer than 20 days now have to be licenced with the Municipality in order to be in compliance with the bylaw.  This also applies to any puppy being born within the municipality, whether the puppy is born from a backyard breeder or a CKC kennel.

Under the old A300 you had 60 days before you had to licence your dog - what it used to say was:

Licensing Of Dogs 3
(1) No person shall own a dog within the Municipality without having obtained a license from the License Administrator within ten (10) days after the person becomes the owner of the dog, brings the dog into the Municipality or annually before the expiration of any current license.
(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), a person who possesses, has the care of, has the control of or harbours a dog for less than sixty (60) days is not required to license the dog.

What A700 now says is:

Licensing Of Dogs
5. (1) No person shall own a dog within the Municipality without having obtained a license from the License Administrator:
(a) within twenty (20) calendar days after the person becomes the owner of the dog or brings the dog into the Municipality; or
(b) an annual license, before the expiration of any current license; or
(c) a lifetime license for the dog.

It has come to light because a local rescue's foster dog got out of a backyard and went for a very short walkabout and Animal Control got involved and the local rescue got issued a summary offence ticket for harbouring a dog without a licence - they had the dog in foster for longer than 20 days and hadn't got a tag for him.

I can say with pretty much utmost confidence that no one in rescue knew about this law.

Rescue's budgets are pushed to the limit now - and now we have to add this cost to our bottom line - pretty much unacceptable as far as I'm concerned because most responsible rescues have dogs in foster for longer than 20 days.

When a dog comes into rescue they take a few days to destress - then they go to the vet to be vaccinated. Most veterinarians require at least a week to 10 days between vaccination and spay/neuter - so you are now at 14 days - and then another 10 days waiting for the stitches to come out - and now you are at 24 days before the dog is even available for adoption - and if the dog requires more intensive vet or rehabilitation it could be a couple of months before they are available for adoption - I have personally had dogs in foster for 6 months before they are available for adoption - and then it could be a couple of months before the perfect forever home is found.

So 20 days is really a un-workable number.

I emailed Andrea MacDonald who oversees questions about bylaw A700 at the city asking her if there was some exemption or some answers that could be had with this problem - and her answer was:

"Our licensing system is set up to accommodate such situations. For example, when a dog comes into your care a license can be purchased with you as the primary owner. When the dog is fostered or adopted a secondary owner can be placed on the license. The license record can always contain the rescue contact information and the foster/adopted contact information. This can be very beneficially should the dog potentially get loose at any time, Animal Service will attempt to contact all individuals that are listed on the license record.

In addition, the cost to have the dog licensed can then be recovered through your adoption fee."

So now rescues have to do the extra paperwork of licencing every dog that comes into our rescue - and then when the dog is adopted - have the new owners added on to the tag - what about the next year, and subsequent years when the tag needs to be renewed - does the rescue have to keep renewing the tag? Does the owner do that or the rescue?

And adding another fee on top of our adoption fee? Most people looking for dogs already think our adoption fees are too high - so what are they going to think when we all have to raise our prices?

We all had an increase last year when we had to get Health Certificates added to our cost with the new regulations - which cost anywhere from $40 to $80 depending on the vet you go to - so now we are using our hard fought for fundraising dollars paying municipal fees and provincial fees - soon the government is going to add HST to adoption fees - that's going to be the next thing that's going to happen I think.

If we don't comply with this we are going to turn all of our foster homes into criminals - and what foster home is going to want to be a criminal - we are going to lose all our foster homes over this - and we all know - without foster homes a rescue cannot exist

If you have a concern over this I suggest as a person running a rescue inside the HRM you contact your Municipal Councillor to give your opinion - another fallout from A700.

If you do want to comply - most veterinarians take applications for city tags - so when you take your dogs in for their initial veterinary consultation - you can get their tags then.

Like as if we don't already have to deal with enough with our rescue organizations.