Dog Control Service Review

Our assessment determined that the service in place at the time:

  • Lacked clear policy direction and operational support
  • Required a multi-faceted mandate that recognized a variety of goals alongside of public safety
  • Needed to balance an emphasis on enforcement with greater attention to “front-end” activities
  • Required a strong focus on efforts that aimed to increase the number of dog licenses sold each year
  • Needed to recognize the value of education in promoting responsible dog ownership and preventing injury from dog aggression
  • Needed to achieve a higher level of cost recovery
  • Needed to develop stronger relations with the dog owner community and key stakeholder groups
  • Needed to build on existing efforts aimed at handling dog aggression incidents
  • Needed to make better and full use of all resources, including the SPCA, to mitigate the need for euthanasia

Based on our assessment, we recommended a new service model centred on the concept of responsible dog ownership. Responsible dog ownership recognizes that the potential for dogs to play a positive role in the community is dependent, almost entirely, on the attitudes and actions of dog owners. The concept recognizes that local government on its own cannot effectively manage human-dog interactions. Dog owners must be active partners in working to prevent problems from occurring, and in holding other owners accountable for good dog behaviour. The concept recognizes, as well, that when owners care properly for their dogs, train their dogs, and understand their rights and responsibilities, the number and severity of dog-related problems and the need for enforcement decrease.

In our report, we presented several recommendations, all of which were endorsed by the Board. We also identified a range of outcomes that RDCO could expect from implementing the recommendations. Key expectations included:

  • A significant increase in compliance with licensing requirements, and in the number of licenses sold
  • A significant increase in the level of service cost-recovery
  • A decrease in the number of dog aggression incidents
  • A significant improvement in the level of support for, and confidence in, the Dog Control Service, as expressed by the dog community and stakeholder groups
  • A decrease in the number of dogs impounded and dogs destroyed

In 2018, Neilson Strategies was re-engaged to evaluate the service, six years following the implementation of the changes from the 2012 review. We found that the expected outcomes had, indeed, been realized and that the service was operating smoothly. We made additional recommendations for further improvement in specific areas.