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Central Okanagan Regional District offers rewards to dog owners who licence

The Central Okanagan Regional District wants to see all dogs licensed. - Contributed
The Central Okanagan Regional District wants to see all dogs licensed.
— image credit: Contributed

A dog licence could cost residents less and offer more rewards in the Central Okanagan where the regional district is offering the first incentive program in B.C. to encourage owners to licence pets.

On Thursday, the Regional District of the Central Okanagan launched My Dog Matters, patterned off a highly-successful initiative by the City of Calgary which brought licensed ownership up to 90 per cent as the result of a business discount program.

"Licensing your dog can be your dog's ticket home in the event that it gets away," said Bruce Smith, communications officer, Central Okanagan Regional District.

Current estimates in the Central Okanagan peg the number of dogs with licences at roughly a quarter of the animals in local homes, though it costs only $20 to licence a spayed or neutered dog and $60 if the animal has not been fixed.

"This is a problem and we're hoping we'll be able to adjust (some) attitudes," Smith admitted, saying this carrot-style incentive program will be followed by a stick approach come fall when the region introduces a new bylaw with new fine structure.

"We believe that most dog owners in our region are responsible and don't require much interaction with our dog service staff," he said. "Since these dog owners are doing the right thing and following our bylaw requirement for purchasing a licence and renewing it each year, they will have an opportunity to receive rewards and get something back."

The program offers all owners who have licensed their pets a discount card to incur savings on everything from pet food to restaurant meals.

So far the businesses offering discounts include groomers, dog daycares, pet stores, kennels, veterinarians, trainers, hotels and restaurants.

A study conducted by Leger Marketing for the Canadian Press in May 2002 polled 1503 English and French-speaking Canadians finding—with an accuracy of plus or minus 2.6 per cent—half of Canadians are bothered by dog poop left in public places and 67 per cent would prefer not to see dogs or cats off leash.

Estimates secured from a combination of pet food marketing reports, government consumer trends statistics and a City of Kelowna survey peg the number of people who own a dog in the region as ranging anywhere from 30 -35 per cent of the population.

There are currently 11,000 licensed dogs. It took the City of Calgary 20 years to attain the level of compliance it's now secured and other cities are now experiencing the same success with the program. Regina, Hamilton and Saskatoon have followed suit

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