July 31, 2018, by Chris Baker, syracuse.com
Is your dog licensed? Most Syracuse dogs aren't, but the city is trying to fix that
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Syracuse officials have traditionally had a rough time getting residents to license their dogs.
To fix that, the city is partnering with a Canadian company, DocuPet, to tout the benefits of dog licensing, manage the program and make it easier to register and pay online.
In Syracuse, about 2,000 dogs are licensed, according to the city clerk's office. That's 8 percent of the estimated total of four-legged friends in the city.
Most people don't even know they're supposed to get a license for their dog, said City Clerk John Copanas, whose office administers dog licenses. State law requires pet owners to purchase a dog license.
Other people know, but don't want to bother or pay the annual fee. There's no real punishment for not having a license. If your dog gets loose and picked up by animal control, however, you'll have to pay a fine.
Mostly, however, the benefits of a license go untold. DocuPet hopes to change that, according to CEO Grant Goodwin.
"It's important to understand how often pets get away from their owners and how futile methods are for getting that pet returned quickly and at no cost," Goodwin told city councilors last week. "That [license] tag is the number one tool for getting a dog back."
Lawmakers Monday approved the agreement with DocuPet to handle licensing.
The company, based in Kingston, Ontario, works with several Canadian municipalities already. Syracuse is its first client in the United States. It will set up headquarters in the Tech Garden with three full-time employees. Goodwin said he expects to have 20 employees here by 2020.
In other cities, DocuPet has doubled the rate of compliance with dog licensing. They've also reduce the costs associated with managing the license program, according to Goodwin.
Those efforts should generate revenue for the city. DocuPet will take a cut of that revenue.
In Syracuse, a dog license costs $10 a year if your dog is spayed or neutered. It's $20 otherwise.
Currently, a dog license must be applied for by mail or in person at the city clerk's office. The fee needs to be paid by check or money order. DocuPet will allow owners to apply online and pay with a credit card.
The program should be up-and-running by mid September.
Goodwin said an increase in licensing is good for the community and for the dog owner. If your dog runs away and is picked up by animal control, it's much more likely to be found if it is licensed and tagged. It's also easier to get your dog back.
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