Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Dog licensing the Chicago way: City officials dog on the job

In the latest example of dumb and dumber do politics, here is a classic blunder in the city's attempt to addresss dog licensing. The Chicago Sun Times reports:
Dog owners have been thumbing their noses at the city’s mandatory dog license for decades. Chicago has roughly 500,000 dogs. It sells only 20,072 licenses despite years of threatened crackdowns.
Did it ever occur to the city that the majority of dog owners merely forget to send in the application? That enabling them to pay the fee and get the tag when their dogs get their shots might be the answer?
Why, then, did the Daley administration quietly impose a five-fold increase in the annual license fee for dogs not spayed or neutered — from $10 to $50?
Good question and why are we not concerned about cats?
“What we want to do is . . . make sure we make every effort to get our animals neutered and spayed so that we don’t have an over-population of dogs. This is a good way to do that,” said License Committee Chairman Eugene Schulter (47th).
Don't cats overpopulate as well? What is preventing pet owners from lying about their pets status to pay the cheaper fee?
Three years ago, then-City Clerk James Laski finally got around to tightening the regulatory leash for unlicensed dogs — by using a computer program to cross-check the city’s short list of licensed dogs against Cook County’s 100,000-plus list of Chicago dogs with rabies shots. Laski mailed 3,130 warning letters. One-third of the dog owners who got them promptly bought licenses — even before fines were levied. But, there was a problem. It takes 10 minutes to process and engrave each metal license. “There weren’t enough people to process the applications. They mailed only a few thousand letters. But, when too many came back, they couldn’t keep up with the volume and the warning letters stopped,” said Jay Rowell, deputy director of the clerk’s office.
Now why are we hand engraving city licenses? They don't have any personal information on the dog. Seems they could be mass produced, couldn't they? If they needed several categories, such as dangerous dog, neutered or non neutered, couldn't they still be mass produced? Did Toddy's budget cuts affect the number of engravers? Are the engravers city employees or is this contract licensed out? Do the engravers make a living wage?
Now, City Clerk Miguel del Valle has introduced an ordinance that would pave the way for dog licenses to be sold on the Internet and for the city to issue a three-year license, in addition to the annual one.
What part of this are you having a hard time with Miguel? Veterinarians should be collecting fees and issueing tags!!!
Rowell said the clerk is also exploring the possibility of shifting to either a sticker to be placed on the back of the rabies tag or to a plastic license. And he’s forming a task force of dog lovers to explore ways to “add value” to the dog license by providing owners with information on dog laws, dog-friendly areas and how to access them.
What is the likelyhood that an adhesive sticker will withstand beach sand, rolling and dog play? Go back to the drawing board!
Kent is promising a licensing crackdown, even before new revenue comes rolling in. She has authority to hire a new inspector to add to her team of three.
So each inspector will be responsible for 125,000 dogs. They'll be as effective as our city's elevator inspectors. The whole embarrassing story here.


Thomas Westgard said...

The printing thing will take care of itself - an eminently fixable problem. What really makes sense is to do the same thing with dog licenses that is done with vehicle stickers - allow currency exchanges to sell them with a small markup, or you can go to one of the City places and buy it with no markup. The relationship between the city and the vendors already exists. The problem with this theory, though, is that proof of vaccination is supposed to be submitted with the license application, but maybe this could part could be eliminated, and just do it with a database cross-check. There would still be a margin of error with dogs that got vaccinations in places that aren't on the list, but if most people bought the licenses, there should be enough revenue to cover this easily.

Margot Hackett said...

Tom, Completely agree with you. My point is simple. When you have your pet vaccinated, the vet provides you with your city license application. The city license application requires proof of rabies. The city also wants to know if your dog is neutered. What better authority than a vet to assure both have been done?

The Chicago Park District only allows vet clinics to provide tags and permits for their dog friendly areas. Why can't the city follow their lead.

I have been the responsible pet owner, brought my dogs in for their vacinations. Why can't the vet collect my city fees and issue the tag?

The city vents over the lack of dog owners registered. They debate over making the tag resourse friendly, accessible over the internet etcetera.

My feeling is most of us take the application home with full intention of applying. But the day to day dramas inevitably put this task on the back burner. This could be avoided by having the very institution that is providing applications, accepting fees and giving tags. One stop shopping if you may, not to mention affidavits from an expert.

Ed said...


My daughter and I have lost everything here in Eugene, Oregon & our driving to Chicago tonight. I'm from Chicago originally & my daughter and I have places to stay while we get back on our feet BUT OUR BLACK LAB DOESN'T. My daughter is nine-years-old & this has all been very hard on her. I REALLY don't want her to lose her dog. She's had it hard enough.

We'll be arriving in Chicago Thursday afternoon/evening broke needing a place for Chill (our dog) to stay immediately.

He's NOT very well trained & he's DEFINITELY an indoor dog. He's a baby about going out in the rain when it's nice here or when it's colder than 55. Not too much of a baby, but he's definitely not one for living outside in Chicago in the winter.

He doesn't bite (unless you rough house with him & then just hard nipping not actual biting) and he does his business outside. That's about all I can say about his good behavior. He's playful and eats stuffed things and roots around in the garbage when you're not home. He barks & jumps.

If I had ANY clue that we were in a less-than-stable situation, we would have never gotten him. If I would've had more notice, I would've trained him better or sent him to obedience school. Aside from the garbage (which is a brand new thing) he's trained just fine for us, so we didn't worry about it. That's not to say we wouldn't like him to be better trained now. We'd be happy to let his boarder train him as much as they would like.

I am guaranteed to have a place for us by January (I know this because of money already coming in December and January). I'm going to be job hunting and trying to find a place for us MUCH sooner than that. For the moment, I'm worried about where he's gonna sleep Thursday night. Any help for any time would be greatly appreciated.

We love our dog very much & I love my daughter very much & she NEEDS to have him with us together in our new home in Chicago as soon as possible.

Please help us.

Any suggestions are graciously accepted.

Our cell is 541-285-3232 & my email is epliml@yahoo.com (although I don't know if I'll get the opportunity to check it before Thursday).
My name is Ed. My daughter is Bo & our dog is Chill.

Thank You

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